Skip to main content

Full text of "" ... and so made town and country one": the streetcar and the building of Portland, Oregon, 1872-1920"

See other formats

The Streetcar and the Building of Portland, Oregon, 1872-1920 

A Thesis 
Presented to the 
Committee on American Studies 
Reed College 

In Partial Fulfillment 

of the Requirements for the Degree 

Bachelor of Arts 

Richard H ♦ Engeman 

i££jLi, May.. 1969.--..—.- 

Approved for the Committee 



Chanter I 

Portland: Statement, Prospectus, History 

A Statement 


A History 

Chaoter II 

Life in the Streetcar City 15 

Streetcars and Retail Business 
Streetcars and Residential Development 
Streetcars, Carrousels, Cemeteries, Chautaucuas 

Chapter III 

Line by Line by Line 37 


The Streetcar Lines, 1872-1906 

The Few Years of Triumph: 1907-1920 

The Interurban Lines 


References ^ 81 

Bibliography 86 

Glossary . ♦ . 91 

Kans 92 

The Abstract 

This thesis is essentially a study of the streetcar 
and interurban railways of Portland, Oregon, prior to 1920. 
As such, it attempts to assess the impact of streetcar and 
interurban transportation on the physical and social struc- 
tures of a growing western metropolis, and to relate the 
features of urban development during the pre-automobile 
years to the features of the present automobile city. The 
first chapter deals briefly with the early history of Port- 
land to establish some conception of the city's reasons for 
being, of why and where it grew in the years before the 
streetcar came. The second chapter details the relation- 
shlos between the streetcar technology and three aspects 
of urban life: the concentration of retail business into 
one large and numerous small trade areas, the rapid and 
diffuse spreading of residential districts around the city, 
and the increase in leisure time. The third chapter is a 
detailed account of the principal extensions and changes 
in the actual network of streetcar and interurban . lines, 
divided into three sections. The first details lines 
built before 1907, the second developments between 1907 
and 1920, and the third the growth of suburban and inter- 
urban railways. The summary statement is couched in terms 
of the kind of urban life the streetcar represented. The 
streetcar served well to make "town and country one 11 , to 

scatter people over a landscape that they T-i^ht be far from 
the contaminations of the city in physical terms, and yet be 
close to its advantages in terms of time and expense. 

I: Portland: Statement, Prospectus, History 

A Statement 

It Is Impossible to assert with 'conviction that the 
city of Portland, Oregon, grew to its present size and 
importance in a unique fashion or in a unique manner. 
It is equally impossible to show that it followed any 
predict able. "■ or expected pattern of growth, that the 
growth was inevitable or that its development was in any 
outstanding sense typical. As a western trade center, 
Portland's development bears little resemblance to the 
history of such eastern centers of trade as Boston, New 
York, Philadelphia, or Baltimore; it cannot be readily 
compared with the evolution of trans- Allegheny commercial 
and industrial centers such as Pittsburgh, St. Louis, 
Cincinnati, or Louisville; it bears no resemblance to 
Chicago, nor to New Orleans; not to Denver or Kansas 
City. Even comparisons with West Coast centers such as 
San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, and Los Angeles are 
highly misleading, although they are helpful , And yet 
there is no aura of uniqueness about Portland. 

This thesis does not propose to explain Portland, 
its reasons for being or growing, its forms and images 
and style of life except In the limited context of the 
influence of street and interurban railways upon these 


things in that limited period when street and inter- 
urban railways had the power to manipulate, consciously 
and unconsciously, the shape and growth of cities. 

It is, in the first place, necessary to review 
quickly the principal events in the history of Portland: 
its beginnings, what caused it to prosper in a sedate 
fashion for decades as a commercial center for the North- 
west, the nature of its population and business, its geo- 
graphic features, and the manmade features which were im- 
posed on the land* In the second place, a relatively ex- 
tensive account of the development of mass transportation 
in Portland is needed: a history of its horsecars, cable 
cars, steam interurbans, electric streetcars, and inter- 
urban electric lines. 

From the 1880's through the First V, T orld War, public 
transit was a fact of life in Portland, much as it was 
in almost every other American metropolitan area (or 
hopefully-metropolitan area). There is no denying that 
cheap, rapid, convenient and public transportation played 
a primary role in the ability of cities to grow to un- 
precedented size 1 A r hile still retaining a semblance of 
urban unity. That Portland came to experience its period 
of greatest growth when the electric cars were holding 
sway in the domain of local urban transit had definite 
implications for the manner in which it grew. 

Sam Warner, Jr., has described the growth of Boston 
in the lnte nineteenth century as a matter of extending 
the boundaries of an already concentrated and established 
urban center into a countryside long dotted with rural 
villages and country retreats. Street railways played 
and important role in gathering these villages and re- 
treats into the social and economic sphere of Boston, as 
well as populating the intervening countryside. Port- 
land had not established itself as the urban concentra- 
tion Boston was in the ISSO's when the street railway 
appeared to begin spreading the populace over the land- 
scape. There were few villages to be absorbed into the 
central city; there were even fewer country estates; 
and there was no intervening farmland to be spread over 
with housing. There w^s only a wilderness of forest, 
much of which was and could only be opened to suburban 
settlement by the "magical electric fertilization" of 
the streetcar. 

Finally, Portland's relatively stable rate of growth 
— it never had to contend with the likes of San Fran- 
cisco's innundation of miners, speculators, and merchants 
of the 1850' s or the disastrous earthquake of 1906, with 
Los Angeles 1 land-and-climate booms of the lSSO's and 
I920 , s, with Seattle's wave of Yukon throngs at the turn 
of the century — has preserved many of the features of the 
streetcar city well into the automobile age* While in- 

creased mobility has enabled land use patterns to shift 
in many areas, the changes have not erased all marks of 
the "original 11 Portland. Such wholesale land reworkings 
as the South Auditorium Renewal Project, the Memorial 
Coliseum, the Stadium Freeway, have, indeed, demolished 
much of the old city, but they are recent ravages. For 
at least thirty years after the 1920 , s, when the street- 
car ceased to be the predominant and indispensable means 
of public transportation in Portland, the city existed 
within the bounds of a streetcar city. Only within the 
past fifteen years have the structures visibly begun to 
fall, and even today the area bears significant traces 
of having matured as a streetcar city. 

It is hoped then that this paper will be able to 
describe some of the effects of streetcar living in Port- 
land, something of the institutions it supported and of 
the habits it fostered. Of course, it cannot be contended 
that the streetcar is responsible, for the configuration 
of the city; it was only one of many forces which were 
at work in shaping living conditions between i860 and 
1920. Existing in a world without telephones, elevators, 
or electric lights, in a culture which rejected the appeal 
of urban living for the country, or which rejected the 
ideal of domestic rural virtues, it, might have become'- wc 
only an amusement device. Gut it did arrive with the 
telephone, the elevator, and electric lighting. It en- 


tered a culture which prized the variety and excitement 

of city life and embraced its opportunities for industrial 
employment, a culture which almost paradoxically still 
valued the privacy and independence of rural life. 2 The 
streetcar, obviously an agent of urbanism and industrial- 
ism, was Just as paradoxically an agent for making rural 
and semi-rural suburban living available to thousands who 
could never (and would never wish to) actually operate a 
farm or live an isolated farm life. 

A Prospectus 

Like many another city Portland ascribes much of the 
credit for its existence to the fortunes of geography. 
It is, first, an ocean port. Second, it is a freshwater 
port over a hundred miles inland from the sea. Third, 
it is located at the convergence of two water-level routes 
from productive interior regions. The combination was at- 
tractive enough to almost insure the eventual development 
of some trading point along the Columbia system serving 
the new American Northwest. Why Portland rather than St. 
Helens, Linnton, St. Johns, Milwaukie, or Oregon City be- 
came the principal port of the Columbia Basin is now a 
matter of conjecture. We can believe it was a matter of 
river conditions combined with minor political intrigue, 
the will of God, and the works of man; or we can stand 
with Stewart Holbrook and say it was a stern pronouncement 

by Captain Couch and the construction of a rutted plank 
road up Tanner Creek which made the metropolis. 3 What- 
ever the reasons, she is there today. 

Geography may have made Portland a commercial center; 
but our concern with geography will concentrate on the 
natural physical features of the site of nineteenth- 
century Portland before considering the implications of 
regional geography. Early Portland was laid out on a 
tract of relatively level land on the west bank of the 
Willamette, about ten miles above its entrance into the 
Columbia. Just north of the site of the first Portland 
plat, the northward-flowing Willamette angles to the north- 
west; along the west bank of this bend once were several 
marshy lakes, while south of it the land rises gently 
back from the river for about a mile. There the West 
Hills thrust sharply upward from the lowlands. To the 
extreme north the land slopes down again to the river 
level, and the West Hills close down to the river's edge. 
South of the plat the hills again close in to the river, 
spreading out into more rounded hills and leaving only a 
narrow benchland along the river bank. The land then 
easily available to settlement in Portland constituted 
an area of about three square miles of gently sloping 
forest. Within the confines of the river, the marshes 
to the north, and the West Hills rose virtually all of 
Portland before 1880. 


The east bank of the river might see-red a more 
convenient place to build a city. For the mo3t part the 
ground is level, rising back gradually from the river, 
and virtually without such major obstacles as the west 
side's thousand-foot hills of precipitous slope. Directly 
opposite west side Portland, however, three ravines emp- 
tied waters Into the Willamette and had piled up an al- 
luvial deposit which hampered easy access to the shore by 
ocean vessels. And to the north of the depression where 
the gulches reach the Willamette, the banks rise high a- 
long the river to a point well past St. Johns; to the 
south also they appear in gravelly bluffs overlooking 
Ross Island and extending upriver beyond Sellwood. The 
east side lacked a suitable landing point for shipping 
south of St. Johns, but the alluvial flat lands of East 
Portland were soon found suitable to gardening and resi- 
dences. Although the gulches which had piled up the dis- 
tressing gravel fan at East Portland were no help to 
shippers they were to the railroads, which found two of 
them useful in carrying their roadbeds down to water level 
from the eastern plateau. Tracks which eventually led to 
San Francisco extended south from East Portland through 
Stephen's Gulch in 1869; the Villard transcontinental 
wended its way through Sullivan 1 s Gulch in 1883, and the 
major shops and yards of both lines were located on the 
east side. 4 

With water-borne commerce solidly committed to west 
side moorages, it was certain that the vest side would 
develop along commercial lines: the docks were there, so 
the warehouses were there. With warehouses were whole- 
sale houses, financial agents, and retail stores. And of 
course there were houses, hotels, boarding houses, and 
lodgings for those engaged in shipping, warehousing, sel- 
ling, for laborers, clerks, and professionals. The usable 
land of the west side was sufficient to accomodate all 
this activity until the ISSO's. However, to provide ad- 
ditional waterfront sites for shipping and warehousing and 
less expensive land nearby for wholesalers, the marshes 
and lakes north of the original plat were gradually filled 
in after I87O. The east side, lacking the natural fea- 
tures to enable it to participate in a commercial system 
based on transportation by water, languished for many years 
after its founding in the. I860 t s. By the time the trans- 
continental railroad reached the east bank in I883, and 
the road to San Francisco was opened in 1887, the west 
side was firmly entrenched as the heart of business ac- 
tivity and the center of population. The advantages of 
the east side as the location of residences and business 
were not to become apparent until the iSSO's when the pop- 
ulation began to crowd the small area of the west side, 
and bridges and streetcars could link the two banks into 
a continuous, city .* 

A History 

In the Oregon Country of the 1840 's there was as yet 
only one established metropolis: Oregon City, the end of 
the Oregon Trail, Seemingly ideally situated on the banks 
of the Willamette where the river plunges over a forty- 
foot cataract (which provided power for flour and lumber 
mills), Oregon City looked forward to becoming the trade 
center for the Willamette Valley. Above the falls, the 
river was tame and wide, providing an ideal highway for 
bringing grain down from the fertile fields of French 
Prairie, The grain-growing fields of the Tualatin Plains 
could also be reached from Oregon City by muddy wagon road 
or, if the water was high, the snags were avoided, and the 
shoals at the mouth could be overcome, down the Tualatin 
River, And ocean-going sailing vessels could come up to 
landings beneath the falls, again assuming sufficient water 
and the good fortune to escape the clutches of a gravel 
bar at the mouth of the Clackamas and the treacherous 
shallows about Ross Island, But the location was obvious- 
ly not so ideal as early residents had hoped. So, when 
the legendary Captain John H. Couch, who piloted ships 
from the East Coast to Oregon several times, declared that 
he could not and would not bring his ships "a rod further" 
than a point opposite the tiny settlement of Portland, he 
may have fixed Portland's destiny for the next century, ^ 

Portland's founding, if not much else of its history, 
has been told often, Asa Lawrence Lovejoy, late of Massa- 



chusetts, and Francis Pettygrove, late of the State of 
Maine, platted a few streets in- a clearing beside the 
river In 1845, Perhaps being a bit homesick, Mr. Love joy- 
wished to name the tract Boston; Mr. Pettygrove, in a 
similar state of mind, suggested Portland. A flip of 
a coin resolved the conflict. By 1850 the village had a 
population of nearly 800, industry in the form of a steam 
sawmill, culture in the guise of the Weekly Oreggnian , and 
commerce represented by an occasional sailing vessel and 
a log-cabin hotel. 7 A year previously the citizenry had 
looked to the capture of some further commerce, the trade 
of the Tualatin Plains. If a water or water-level route 
were the solution to connecting the Plains with trade along 
the Willamette, Oregon City should have benefited. But in 
a direct line Portland was much closer to these lands; 
they lay Just over the hills which were directly behind 
the town. So the citizens of Portland undertook to im- 
prove and plank a perilous road through the canyon of Tan- 
ner Creek and over the crest to the Plains, completing the 
project in 1851. This effort netted Portland the trade 
of that region and possibly, after Captain Couch's de- 
claration, completed the demoralization of Oregon City, 
though Its utter usurpation was several years in the future.^ 

The growth of the city after -1850 was statistically 
explosive, but Portland was by no means a metropolis at 
the end of the decade. It had acquired a brick building 


toy 1853 through the farsightedness of William S. Ladd, as 
well as many two-storied structures to occasion civic 
pride. However, many of the double-decked buildings were 
not ostentatious business structures but riverfront ware- 
houses which needed a lower floor for normal water levels 
and an upper floor for use during the river's spring and 
summer flood stages, A daily newspaper appeared in 1859; 
when this shortly failed, another arose; when it too fail- 
ed the enduring Orep-onian began daily publication. 9 

The census of 1860 showed the town's population to 
have increased to nearly 3,000. During the 1850 's those 
Portlanders — apparently none too numerous — who were spared 
the ravages of California gold fever had built Portland 
into a prosperous shipping point. Portland found itself 
milling and loading lumber for shipment to San Francisco, 
and collecting and dispatching wheat and fruit from the 
Willamette Valley to the California mines. In 1860 the 
Oregon Steam Navigation Company was formed;, the OSN was 
shortly to monopolize transportation between Portland and 
the Columbia Basin. The discovery of gold in eastern 
Oregon, Idaho, and Montana in the early 1860's proved a 
golden moment for the OSN, for Portland capitalists, and 
for the fortunes of Portland as a commercial center. 10 

The census of 1870 showed a city nearly three times 
larger than the Portland of a decade earlier: 8,293 resi- 
dents. Portland's commercial and cultural importance was 

probably much greater than the small count indicates, for 
in 1870 Portland was the largest city north of Sacramento 
and west of Denver, Already many of the people whose names 
were to become inextricably involved with Portland's com- 
merce and finance had begun to acquire their fortunes: 
Ainsworth, Thompson, Reed, Kamrn of the Oregon Steam Navi- 
gation; Ladd, Corbett, and Failing, DeLashmutt, Dekum and 
Lovnsdale. The city grew fairly rapidly throughout the 
seventies, although activity was still concentrated in a 
narrow strip along the river north from about Jefferson 
Street, and west to 5th and 6th Streets. A few hundred 
people lived across the river in East Portland, which was 
incorporated as a separate city in I87I, and settlements 
existed at St. Johns and at Fulton, just south of Portland. 
In I872, a small mule-drawn street railway appeared on 
First Street: Portland was now a city. 11 

By 1880, the city had doubled in size to nearly 
18,000 persons, and it entered Into a decade of spectacu- 
lar yet substiial growth. The residences of the wealthy 
began to move west into Couch's Addition and along the 
case of the West Hills; the business district too was 
pushed westward as warehousing and shipping took up in- 
creasing space back from the river and extended to the 
north over the recently filled- in marshlands. The trans- 
continental railroad arrived with great ceremony in I883, 
and yards, shops and grain elevators sprang up across the 


river In the railroad town of Albina. In the eighties too 
the street railway began to be something less of a novelty 
and more of a necessity. 3y the end of the decade horse- 
car lines had spread over Portland and into East Portland 
and Albina. At the beginning of the nineties, the still- 
new horsecar lines were obsolete, and electric cars were 
taking over their runs. 12 The streetcar city began to 
take shape . 

Between 18o0 and 1910, Portland's population approxi- 
mately doubled every decade; from 17,577 in 1880 to 
46,385 in 1890, then to 90*462, reaching 207,214 in 1910. 
In the next decade it showed a further substantial increase 
to 258*288. The original west side location of course did 
not absorb this population; the streetcar helped scatter 
it to north, east, and south. As residential areas spread 
over the east side, to the edge of the West Hills, and 
south toward Fulton, the municipal boundaries tried to 
gather them all into the parental fold. In 1891, Portland 
consisted of about seven square miles on the west side, 
but in that year it annexed East Portland and Albina and 
emerged as a city of some 25 square Mies in area. When 
Sellwood was added in 1893, fourteen square miles came 
with it, some of it between East Portland and Sellwood, 
the remainder on the north east side Including part of 
what later was St. Johns. Part of this northern wilder- 
ness was detached five years later, only to be taken in 


again in 1915 with St. Johns itself. In 1915, too, 

Linnton was annexed to the city, which added 30 me nine 
square miles of west side timberlands to the total .13 
By 1920, the city boundaries were not vastly different 
from those today and the city itself had established 
patterns of traffic, residential development, and bus- 
iness activities which still dominate the city landscape. 

lit Life In the Streetcar City 

Streetcars and Retail Business 

As a passenger carrier which cane to dominate the 
urban transportation scheme, the streetcar naturally had 
an effect upon business patterns. Portland's first line 
extended down the principal retail thoroughfare of the 
town, First Street, which at either end penetrated areas 
of a heavier residential concentration. At that time, of 
course, a greater proportion of people lived in the bus- 
iness district than do so now: storekeepers lived over 
or behind their establishments, often renting extra space 
on second or third floors for living quarters** Many '.rela- 
tively permanent residents lived in downtown hotels and 
boarding houses in order to be close to their place of 
work in downtown shops, warehouses, mills, and on the 
docks. Still, small individual houses were common within 
a block or two of the business streets. The streetcar 
eventually was to help disperse this downtown residential 
population to outlying areas where the majority of fami- 
lies lived in individual houses on small lots. During 
the first decade of horsecar service in Portland, this 
tendency was probably not particularly significant — at 
least the influence of car service on such trends is not 
especially evident. The early car line served established 

patterns of city life, but it could not noticeably pro- 
mote the trend tov;ard urban population dispersal and bus- 
iness concentration evident at the time in Boston, for 
example . 

The car line developments of the eighties were some- 
what more speculative and also more prophetic of future 
trends.''.'! Thejrpushed to the west and northwest, toward an 
area only beginning to develop as a significant residen- 
tial area, and linked it with the commercial and indus- 
trial downtown area. V/here the first car line had been 
surviving — tenuously surviving at that--on the traffic of 
shoppers who were disinclined to walk the few necessary 
blocks, of workers who lived in the south part of town 
though they worked in the northern section, and of wet- 
weather travelers, the new lines were prepared to make a 
new life style available to Portland residents. One 
could now purchase a small lot in relative wilderness and 
yet be assured of easy conveyance to town.- In this case, 
the cars opened new territory to easy settlement and they 
could count on a steadier traffic. The distances were 
sufficient that few people, workers or shoppers, would 
walk even in good weather: they had to take the cars. 
The first horsecar line in the center of Portland was 
mostly a pretentious convenience, v/hile the early lines 
into Couch's Addition were nearly a necessity if the area 
was to develop as part of Portland. 


On the east side, In East Portland and Albina, the 
car lines of the eighties led to the ferry landings on 
the Willamette; after 1837, they crossed it on the new 
Morrison Street Bridge, and soon after on the Madison 
Street Bridge as well. Albina was the site of the shops 
of the Union Pacific Railroad, and both East Portland 
and Albina were the site of limited river activity; but 
although these offered some local Industrial employment, 
both cities were tributary to Portland proper In commer- 
cial and cultural affairs. They were principally resi- 
dential communities which sent most of their working 
populace to Portland each day, and the streetcars, fer- 
ries, and bridges made the trek possible. 

At the beginning of the 1890*3 the dominance of 
Portland as the center of regional trade and population 
was complete; the only other centers of any Importance 
In a forty-mile radius were the historic settlements of 
Oregon City and Vancouver, and they too were linked to 
the interests of Portland. Vancouver for years was ac- 
cessable to Portland only by local sternwheel steamers 
which took from two to three hours to negotiate the pas- 
sage down the Willamette and back up the Columbia in a 
lengthy dogleg. 1 By 1888 It was connected to Portland by 
a land route from the Morrison Bridge and the Stark Street 
ferry to the Vancouver-Hayden Island ferry. This arrange- 

ment cut travel tine by more than half and opened" *up ; * a 
vast territory to suburban development. At the same 
time, it made commuting between Vancouver and Portland 
feasible if still a bit time-consuming and complicated. 

Oregon City, too, had long been bound to Portland's 
fortunes by river travel, the trip taking about an hour. 
In the early part of 1893 one of America's first electric 
interurban railways reached Oregon City from Portland, 
and the reduced travel time and competitive cost damaged 
river traffic and once again stimulated suburban growth. 
"All the way from Brooklyn were farms and new clearings, 
and new townsites and signs advertising suburban tracts 
for |5 down and #5 a month. ,f 3 

Along both the Vancouver and Oregon City routes, 
semi-rural residential developments were the predominant 
activity. Although the Vancouver line passed through the 
city of Albina and witnessed the growth of some retail 
trade in the new Piedmont and Woodlawn districts, the 
growth of trade and commerce in these areas was insig- 
nificant compared with the trade which residents along the 
line lust have contributed to downtown Portland: the 
result of pursuing the ideal of country living with ac- 
cess to the opportunities of the city. 

The Oregon City line passed through two older set- 
tlements, both of which had at one time hoped to rival 

Portland as centers of river traffic and thus of commerce 
in the Willamette Valley and Columbia Basin: the pio- 
neer settlement of Milwaukie and the much newer town of 
Sellwood, which came Into being in the lSSO's. Milwaukie, 
expectedly, became a suburban settlement, though not so 
markedly as did Sellwood and the area between Sellwood 
and Portland, for Milwaukie retained the local trade it 
had built up over the past forty years as a river landing 
between Portland and Oregon City. Sellwood, however, ■ 
having failed in its aspirations to coax industry to its 
shores and ocean-going or river craft to its landings, 
settled down to become a real estate subdivision with easy 
and convenient access to Portland. 4 It was incorporated 
as a separate city in 1887 > and in Februrary of 1893, 
the same month that service began on the new Oregon City 
Interurban, Sellwood was annexed to Portland. A core of 
retail activity has remained to this day, but such in- 
stitutions as the Bank of Sellwood are gone and the poten- 
tial for an extensive business development was lost with 
the gain of cheap passage to the larger and more exciting 
offerings of the central city* 

Similar patterns are observable on virtually all of 
the early lines which extended several miles from the 
city. Such east side communities as Lents, Montavilla, 
Sunny side, Brooklyn, and St. Johns were founded before 

the arrival of the cars, and prospered to a limited ex- 
tent as retail trade centers for nearby farmers and sub- 
urbanites; but after the arrival of streetcar service, 
their importance declined. Montavilla, located at the 
eastern end of the Montavilla car line, is still an area 
of retail business, though it was and remains limited in 
extent: it supplied groceries, clothing, and other day- 
to-day necessities, but the nearby residents worked in 
Portland, transacted most of their commercial business 
there, and looked to it for supplies, cultural events, 
and employment. Sunnyside and Brooklyn exhibited a simi- 
lar cycle, and St. Johns and Lents are prominent examples 
of it. 

St. Johns, whose promoters, like those of Sellwood, 
hoped to make it a river port rivaling Portland, grew up 
somewhat more independently as a small city. It was in- 
corporated in 1903 and launched itself upon an agressive 
promotional effort as an industrial, commercial, and river 
center of soon-to-be-undoubted importance.^ Its pros- 
pects for becoming such a center had once been quite fav- 
orable, but by 1903 Portland had both a commanding and in- 
superable lead and the wealth and momentum to maintain it- 
self in the forefront. And one factor which might have 
helped St. Johns in its efforts to develop independently 
was gone by that time. From 1890 until about 1900, travel 

to St, Johns from Portland was by electric car to Albina, 
6r-; 'later, somewhat further to the intersection of Inter- 
state and Killingsworth Streets, and thence by steam 
motor carrier to Portsmouth and St. Johns. The necessity 
for transfer from electric to steam cars, the infrequent 
scheduling of the steam line, and the graduated fare struc- 
ture made travel between Portland and St. Johns exceedingly 
awkward, relatively expensive, and very time-consuming. 
The inconvenience of the railway link helped perpetrate 
the isolation of the town from Portland and permitted it 
a more extensive retail development than was noticeable ift-: 
any other suburb except East Portland and Albina (these, 
by 1891, were officially part of Portland; their retail 
activities now constituted an east side extension of the 
west side activities). However, by the time St. Johns, 
decided to incorporate as a separate city, it was the 
■ terminus of a through electric service to downtown Port- 
land, replete with the standard city fare of 5^ for any 
distance, full transfer privileges, and a car every twenty 
minutes. It never began to fulfill its hopes as an in- 
dustrial and commercial center^ , independent i.of Portland. St. 
Johns continued to develop as a suburban community of 
small houses inhabited by Portland employees seeking the 
virtues of rural life with access to city vices, pleasures, 
and employment. In 1915 the city was annexed to Portland, 
its absorption completed. 


The community of Lents went through the same cycle. 
It was located at the far end of a steam motor line 
built in 1892 which connected with the steam motor line 
on Hawthorne Street; this in turn met the electric cars 
which crossed the Madison Street Bridge. Again, the 
complications of slow, infrequent service, noisy and 
smoking steam locomotives, and the lack of through service 
to downtown prevented extensive developments along the 
line, and Lents retained a small position as a supply 
point. Residential construction along the line was also 
less pronounced than it was along such through electric 
roads as the Montavilla line; the route was basically 
suburban, and verged on the rural. 7 The real estate 
activity which the road's promoters hoped for did not 
materialize for a decade: something of a disappointment 
as the chief reason for the construction of the line was 
to sell lots in a subdivision called Chicago. However, 
with the electrification of the route in 1901, astounding 
developments took place. "In 1901 /the territory bor- 
dering the Mt. Scott-Lents line7 was a region of second- 
growth timber and small clearings. In 1904 the clearings 
were spreading, and flaunting banners and signs reading: 
'Ten cents a day pays for your homes', and '$5 and $5 a 
month 1 . ...The line was no longer suburban but local, 
with 20 minute headways. "° Part of the increase wa3 the 

2 5 

consequence of a general regional population growth fol- 
lowing the Exposition of 1905, but what made this partic- 
ular region so attractive to newcomers was faster, more 
comfortable transportation and a revised fare structure 
which established the 5^f fare to the city line and a rate 
of 2$ per mile beyond; confutation rates averaged under 
l%f£ per mile. ^ In 1912 Lents was annexed to the growing 
metropolis, and the 5^ fare came with it. 

Although the streetcar contributed to the demise of 
many a small but promising trade center by making access- 
ible the already manifold opportunities of a large city, 
the cars also seem to have explicitly . influenced the 
establishment and location of other such concentrations. 
The free transfer, coupled with an increasing network of 
trunk lines and short connecting lines, was a principal 
agent of this occurrence. The free transfer also had a 
definite propensity toward bolstering the dominance of 
the downtown trade center, for downtown was the principal 
transfer point of the radial streetcar system. Still, 
numerous other transfer points existed throughout the 
city, and retail activity grew up about them also. A 
survey conducted by the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph 
Company in 1916, which provides a set of maps showing the 
location of retail businesses, residences, institutions, 
and so on, clearly illustrates the distribution of retail 

trade establishments, 10 Downtown Portland Is the over- 
whelming center of such activity; the next largest con- 
centrations are situated in East Portland along what is 
now Grand Avenue, particularly clustered around inter- 
sections leading to the bridges (where east side car lines 
crossed the Bridge Transfer car line along Grand Avenue), 
and in Albina where the Williams and Mississippi lines 
converged and where connections were ^ade with the Russell- 
Shaver line. Other concentrations were in- St , Johns, 
Montavilla, Lents, Sunny side, and Sellwood. All of these 
were the terminals of local car lines with the exception 
of Sunny side, which, although it was located along the Kt# 
Tabor car line, was still a place of sufficient importance 
to be the terminal of frequent tripper cars to downtown • 
Small trade centers were located at such intersections as 
E. 26th and Clinton Streets, where the Richmond and Wood- 
stock lines separated; at Milwaukie and Bybee Streets 
where the Sellwood cars connected with East Moreland 
shuttle cars; at Milwaukie and Powell Valley Road, where 
the Brooklyn and Sellwood cars intersected; at 50th and 
Hawthorne Streets, the division point for Hawthorne and 
Mt, Scott cars; at 42nd and Sandy Road where the Rose City 
Park line let off passengers for the Beaumont shuttle 
cars; along Union Avenue at Alberta, Killingsworth, and 
Dekum Streets, points of interchange or divergence for 
the Alberta, Williams and Woodlawn cars to or from the 


Vancouver interurban or Union Avenue tripper cars; and 
at 23rd and West v/urnside, where 23rd Street and Council 
Crest cars went separate ways and Kings Heights and Ar- 
lington Heights cars deposited passengers for transfer 
to city-bound cars. 

On the other hand, there was a notable absence of 
retail development along some streets which are now com- 
mercial arteries, but which in 1916 were either without 
car service or which had had such service for only a short 
while; there were cases as' well of the existence of con- 
siderable retail trade along streets with car lines, 
streets which are nov; of little commercial importance. 

The Powell Valley Road, although it had for decades 
been the principal road from Portland to G-resham and the 
eastern part of the county, was virtually devoid of busi- 
ness enterprises east of 26th Street, where the Yfoodstock 
car line crossed it; the intersection of 21st and Powell, 
the heart of the community of Brooklyn, was the location 
of numerous businesses. Until the automobile, Powell was 
a through road useful for persons driving wagons from 
outlying farms to the city; but neither residential nor 
commercial development was practical without adequate 
transportation, and horse and wagon traffic could not 
provide that. Even after the automobile brought the area 
close to downtown, development was long in coming and 
evidenoed less intensive and more mixed land use, char- 


acteristic of growth in an even more mobile society. 

Sandy Road, like Powell an arterial to the east, did 
not develop either commercially or residentially until 
after a real estate developer built a car line and be- 
gan subdividing the land in 1907. Foster Road, on the 
other hand, served by the Kt . Scott car line out to 103rd 
Street, was sporadically lined with shops by 1916, 

A different case is evident along Alberta Street in 
northeast Portland, which acquired a car line in 1903 and 
was an area of rapid residential growth for the next de- 
cade. It was lined with shops and stores by 1916; today 
it is a minor arterial street, and though many of the 
business buildings still line to route, a large proportion 
are empty or of marginal use. Shopping activity of a 
local nature has shifted to Union Avenue. 

The more or less radial nature of Portland's car 
lines, with all major routes funneling into the downtown 
are and most shuttle lines connecting directly with down- 
town lines, established the city center as the great 
transfer point for persons traveling from one part of town 
to another. Very few lines passed through the city center; 
they terminated there. Some lines from the east side, such 
as the Sunnyside, passed through to terminals in southwest 
Portland, the Sunnyside in the vicinity of Goose Hollow; 
the North and South Portland line at various times extend- 
ed from the vicinity of Willamette Heights to South Port- 

land, Fulton, and beyond. Rut virtually all other lines 
stopped downtown, and to travel by streetcar from St. 
Johns to Sellwood meant a transfer there. A3 the only 
alternative to the downtown transfer, east side lines 
which crossed the river all connected with the East Side 
or Bridge Transfer line which extended from the Broadway 
to the Hawthorne bridge; but to use this route as a link 
in traveling between St. Johns and Sellwood, for example, 
required two transfers. The inconvenience of waiting in 
the rain twice rather than once, of transferring in a 
comparatively desolate place where the solace of corner 
candy and cigar stores was not so easily to be had, chan- 
neled crosstown passengers through downtown transfer 
points. Quicker connections were also easier downtown, 
particularly in off-peak hours when headways could be in- 
frequent enough that a Bridge Transfer car might arrive 
at a connecting point too late to enable it to make the 
next connection which would have been possible with a 
single downtown transfer. One result of such an arrange- 
ment was a proliferation of downtown shops which could 
cater to streetcar passengers waiting between cars: cigar 
stores, candy stores, magazine and news stands, and drug 
stores. 11 


Streetcars and Residential Development 

The preceeding section incidentally indicated 3ome 
of the effects which streetcar routes had upon the growth 
of residential areas, 3y greatly reducing, travel tim£- and 
expense, streetcars made enormous areas of land tributary 
to Portland. Following the residential trends of the 
■l890 ! s and after, this land was principally used for the 
construction of single-family dwellings on fairly large 
lots, in a setting that promised such rural treasures as 
a small garden, trees and grass, and perhaps a few chick- 
ens, as v/ell as the opportunity to enjoy such city benefits 
as streets, water, sewers, lights, a large and varied shop- 
ping district, concerts and plays, downtown churches, and 
industrial or commercial employment. Exploiting the de- 
sire of many to live on the outskirts of the city while 
still being part of it, and of the abilities of the street 
railway to make this style of life possible, several early 
lines were constructed with the hope of using the street- 
car to boost land sales, if necessary operating the car 
line at a loss for some time if land sales (by the same. 
party) would more than cover such losses. 

Such was the Impetus behind the construction of the 
Portland Heights cable car road, an expensive undertaking 
which eventually cost some $800, 000. l2 But by making the 
Heights accessible, previously unsalable land could be 

marketed as view lots. 13 The cable car company period- 
ically went into bankruptcy, but it did continue operating; 
by 1904 the hills were sufficiently populated to Justify 
the construction of an electric line replacing the remain- 
ing portion of the cable road on a non-speculative basis. 
The Vancouver line, as previously mentioned, was con- 
structed to connect the Stark Street ferry with the com- 
pany-owned Vancouver-Hayden Island ferry, though it was 
expected that the line would both pay for itself and soon 
stimulate residential construction along its tracks to 
provide local traffic as well. The Mt . Scott line to :, 
Lents was built for the purpose of opening up an associated 
real estate subdivision called Chicago. It was a rather 
unsuccessful endeavor until the road was electrified and 
fares were reduced in 1901, but enough people did settle 
there in the first decade to keep the line operating. 

After the turn of the century, the connection between 
land values and easy transportation was well enough estab- 
lished that numerous lines were constructed by or for real 
estate subdividers. Those which were built by realtors 
and contractors were linked to the city system by arrange- 
ments which provided subsidy payments to the Portland Rail- 
way, Light and Power Company, the operators of the city 
network after 1907. Subsidy took the forms of a guaran- 
teed income from lines which penetrated undeveloped areas, 



the payment of construction costs by the developer, or 
the turning over of operable lines to the company 'for a 
nominal sum. In at least one case a developer operated a 
free car line, connecting with the city lines, until he 
could persuade the PRL&P to take it over. The developer 
felt that his charging a fare, making two fares necessary 
to reach downtown, would make the properties significantly 
less desirable. 

With the exception of the early speculative lines 
already mentioned, streetcar construction prior to about 
1900 was still usually done when sufficient population 
already existed to support such a road, or the introduction 
of a road seemed to promise increased settlement rapidly 
enough that 3mall early losses could be". tolerated... fLAfter 
the turn of the century the streetcar companies constructed 
very few lines without additional incentives from land de- 
velopers. The majority of later lines were essentially 
losing propositions from a revenue standpoint. Only one, 
the Rose City Park line, extended into a development in- 
tended for middle-class homeowners, and the Rose City Park 
line was a merked success for both the realtor and the 
traction company. Many of the other post-1900 lines — 
the Beaumont, East Moreland, We stover Terrace, Arlington 
Heights, Kings Heights, Murray mead, and the Alameda ex- 
tension of the Broadway — served areas designed for rela- 

tively expensive residences. 16 Unfortunately for the 

streetcar company residents of these areas bought auto- 
mobiles as soon as they could afford them, and they could 
afford then before the less-wealthy residents of Rose 
City Park, St. Johns, Sunnyside, and Sellwood could con- 
sider them. Coupled with the lower population density of 
new upper-class subdivisions, the use of the automobile 
helped cause the early disappearance of streetcars in 
areas where they had most lately been built. ^7 

Streetcars, Carrousels. Cemeteries, Chautauquas 

In addition to providing the inexpensive mobility re- 
quired for the development of the central city surrounded 
by residential suburbs, the streetcars and interurbans of 
Portland fostered the growth of such once-national in- 
stitutions as amusement parks, Sunday picnics and excur- 
sions, and the Chautauqua, and made cemeteries the ex- 
cuse for weekend outings. Although traces of these in- 
stitutions remain in such customs as Sunday drives in the 
country, today mobility has so increased that such cal- 
culated outings are no longer necessary. They were in 
the. streetcar era: the streetcar it-self was an agent of 
increased mobility, but its very tracks still implied and 
demanded a rather specific destination. 



But in the days when the electric cars were the prin- 
cipal form of urban transportation, the streetcar anci in- 
terurban companies discovered that there was great profit 
potential in boosting weekend travel — when few went to 
work and many stores were closed — through the promotion 
of amusement parks. In Portland, Jantzen Beach, an amuse- 
ment park on Hayden. Island reached easily only by trolley, 
became a great revenue producer for the company. 1° A 
similarly successful venture was the construction of ;a 
park at Canemah for picnics and baseball in 1904. Canemah 
Park was located at the end of the Oregon City line on the 
brink of the Willamette falls; one of the excursions 
features was the opportunity to go one way on the electric 
cars and to return via a leisurely river steamboat for the 
combined round-trip fare of just 25^.^9 Perhaps in an 
effort to avoid sharing any further revenues with the 
steamboats, in 1905 the trolley company opened a monster 
free amusement park with a splendid merry-go-round, a 
natatorium, a roller rink, picnic grounds, and a vast array 
of other amusements, on a swampy peninsula along the Wil- 
lamette. This was (and is) Oaks Park, Portland's largest 
and finest concentration of diversions. On fine summer 
days as many as 30,000 persons took the special cars to 
the Oaks, for it was the only way to get there; Oaks cars 
left downtown every five minutes via the high-speed river- 


bank line, and 5^ in carfare was all it took. 20 The 
traction company also had an amusement park atop Council 
Crest after 1908, with a giant Ferris wheel providing a 
magnificent view of the city. After construction of the 
Cazadero interurban line in 1903, trainloads of excur- 
sionists were carried to Estacada and Dodge Park on the 
upper reaches of the Clackamas River for picnics and fish- 
ing, bringing in needed revenues from a line originally 
built to haul materials to a company hydroelectric dam. 2 l 
Another type of weekend excursion which the electric 
lines encouraged was a trip to the cemetery; trolley fun- 
erals, too, became a source of revenue. "In those days 
fortunate was the electric railway that had a good, thriv- 
ing cemetery somewhere on its line, preferably far out to- 
ward the end, because business was sure and steady, "22 
The Portland system had several such opportunities. The 
Fulton line, opened in 1890, extended from the city center 
to Riverview Cemetery at the southern edge of the city. 
As Riverview was Portland's largest cemetery and principal 
crematorium, there was a good traffic both in mourners and, 
yes, in sightseers, for the location was widely known and 
publicized for its landscape artistry and scenic setting. 
The railway added two funeral cars to its equipment roster 
shortly after it opened, cars especially designed to convey 
the body of the deceased and the funeral contingent quietly 
and comfortably from downtown to the cemetery. 2 3 When a 



crematorium was built on the riverbluff near Sellwood, 
the railway added a short spur to the establishment and 
placed another funeral car on that service. 2 ^ One other 
principal cemetery served by the cars was Mt, Calvary, 
located just west of the crest of the West Hills on 
Barnes Road. Although several early car line promoters 
attempted to serve the cemetery — one did for several 
months in fateful 1893 before bankruptcy struck it — the 
streetcars did not reach it until 1911, kt that time a 
narrow gage track was built from the end of the Kings 
Heights line to the cemetery by the United Railways com- 
pany, an otherwise standard gage interurban railway whose 
main track went nowhere hear the cemetery. However, ser- 
vice to lit. Calvary by United was required by its Portland 
franchise; at the time its franchise for city street op- 
erations was issued, United ' s projected route passed 
within hailing distance of the cemetery, and although the 
route changed, the franchise clause didn't, 2 5 The fact 
that to reach Mt, Calvary from downtown required at least 
one and sometimes two transfers made it a somewhat incon- 
venient route, and it was never a popular route. In fact, 
the United reported that revenues from the line covered 
only about 15$ of its operating expenses;: but that was 
United 1 s burden, for the Mt, Calvary line too was operated 
by the PRL&P under a contract which was at least profitable 
to them, 26 


One other turn- of- the -century diversion v:as turned 
to the profit of the traction company: the Chautauqua. 
A large Chautauqua grounds had been established at Glad- 
stone, between Milwaukie and Oregon City, before the inter- 
urban passed by in 1393. The East Side Railway, sensing 
potential revenue, placed a stub track to the grounds 
which for years carried thousands of Port landers out of 
town to hear uplifting and literary lectures and to par- 
ticipate in the camp meeting atmosphere . 2 ? 

In addition to rides generated by necessity and con- 
venience — between home, work, and stores — and purposeful 
excursions to amusement parks, the zoo, the cemetery, 
the Chautauqua, and picnics and ball games, a not-uncommon 
phenomenon was more or less aimless trolley riding. The 
cheapness of trolley fares inspired some people to use 
the trolley to explore unknown sections of the city, in 
much the same way that later generations were to use their 
automobiles for the same purposes. Summer brought a var- 

"In sweltering weather traction companies would notice 
evening traffic increases on open-car routes, reflect- 
ing the numbers of people who rode the cars at ran- 
dom in the evening, just to cool off. In a day with- 
out movies, air conditioning, or electronic amuse- 
ments, riding nowhere in particular on a hot evening 
was a happy custom" 28 

Thus the trolley brought other facets of rurality 
close to city living. It was not only possible to live in 


a suburb with one's rose gardens and chickens, while still 
being close to the employments and diversions of city 
life, it was also possible to escape further into ,r real 
country 11 on the trolleys. The trolley was a convenlnece 
which could make the rural ideal a reality to city-dwel- 
lers. By doing so it may well have enhanced the appeal of 
the automobile, which could promise the same benefits and 
more: the trolley might carry you easily from- the city 
streets to the untrammeled countryside, but so could the 
automobile. The automobile could take one places where 
the trolley crowds had not yet beaten down the country 
grasses, in the company of one's selected friends, and it 
could do so whenever the fancy struck the driver. It was 
not tied to schedules, it could carry five people for the 
same expense that it coiild carry one, and it could take a 
direct route from home to the picnic grounds: one didn't 
have to rattle downtown, mingle with a vast throng of other 
transferring passengers, and share a seat or a "strap with 
ladies in hobbleskirts and businessmen smoking cigars. 
The life style which the trolley had made possible did not 
change dramatically with the introduction of the horseless 
carriage. The automobile was basically a more prestigious, 
adventurous, convenient, and flexible mode of carrying out 
the same aspirations which had fostered the streetcar's 
short but fabulous success. 

Ill; Line by Line by Line 


This chapter, in spite of embellishments designed 
to disguise the "fact, remains simply an account of the 
physical spread of the street and interurban railway net- 
work in Portland, The account itself is a project rather 
than a thesis, but the development of the account pro- 
vided the needed basis both for the generalizations of 
the previous chapter and for a statement on the lasting 
vision which underlies the success of that streetcar 
network, the appeal of the automobile, and the growth of 

Essentially, the streetcar was a direct predecessor 
of the automobile: both were a step upward in mobility, 
permitting cities to spread physically while permitting 
the retention of the urban virtues of variety in employ- 
ment, shopping, and amusement . Inherently, the streetcar 
was capable of fostering urban concentration as much as 
it was capable of allowing urban dispersal. Its prin- 
cipal attribute was the ability to transport vast numbers. 
of people quickly, cheaply, and in reasonable comfort. 
But it became instead an instrument of urban dispersal, 
a duty for which it was not totally unsuited, but never- 
theless one which was better handled by the private auto- 



mobile. The streetcar — cheap, fast, and pnrt of a city- 
wide network — made possible the bringing together of the 
best of the two possible worlds: the urban and the rural. 
Assuming a longing for the attributes of rural life, of 
privacy and greenery and a hone of one f s own, and assuming 
too the attractions of urban life, of wider employment 
opportunities, of a variety of stores and amusements, of 
personal contact, there is a possible explanation for 
why the streetcar was used to promote urban dispersal 
rather than urban concentration. And in that too lies 
an explanation for the immediate appeal of the automobile, 
which could carry out the vision of making town and coun- 
try one with even greater facility. 

The Streetcar Lines , 1872-1906 

Portland got its first look at rapid transit in 1872, 
when it was a muddy trading town of possibly ten thousand 
people. It had one principal street, and so it had to 
have a horsecar line down it. Personable Ben Kolladay was 
one of the promoters of the project; he gave it some used 
rails from his Oregon and California Railroad in addition 
to lending his name to its list of incorporators. To do 
something with the supply of used rails, wooden crossties 
were acquired from the mill of Levi Sstes; another stock- 
holder in the Portland Street Railway. Finally a used 

horsecar was shipped up from San Francisco and a nule v, r as 
hitched to it. For a fare of 5/ one could now take a 
horsecar ride up and down First Street from Gllsan on 
the north to Caruthers on the south, and a car came by 
every hour. 1 

For another decade this one line was quite sufficient 
for Portland. The Portland Street Railway does not appear 
to made anyone rich, or even very many happy, but a 
success of sorts it had. At one time it reputedly main- 
tained eleven pieces of rolling stock and a stable of 35 
horses (the mule was a temporary measure), although its 
route never expanded or contracted. It finally fell into 
bankruptcy in 1895 . By then every other car line downtown 
was powered by electricity or the moving cable; the Port- 
land Street Railway no longer served the principal bus- 
iness street, population centers were spreading, and with- 
out transfer arrangements the line was then wholly obsolete. 

A decade passed, during which time the population of 
the town doubled to nearly 20,000; an occurrence which of 
course required land, which existed only to the west. 
Clearly if the population moved westward while the center 
of activities remained along the waterfront, it would be 
necessary to provide transportation between home and work. 
And another company appeared to provide the service and 
collect its profits. 



In the summer of 1862, Portland's second operating 
streetcar company, the Multnomah Street Railway, was 
formed, A few months later it began to lay tracks west 
from downtown along Washington Street to 23rd Street at 
the case of the West Hills, Before the year was out 
horsecars were regularly operating on the line, which con- 
nected the business district with a burgeoning residential 
area in Couch's Addition and south of it. Small houses 
were rapidly filling up the flatlands west of the city 
center, while a portion of Couch's Addition became for a 
time the location of the palatial wooden mansions of the 
city's wealthy, known as Nob Hill. It was no match for 
San Francisco's Nob Hill, but for a frontier city it suf- 
ficed as a center for the social and economic elite. South 
of Burnside and Nob Hill was a hilly area inhabited by 
Chinese gardeners clinging to the lands along Tanner and 
King's Creeks, and rows of small wooden gothic houses.- 5 
To tap the area south of Burnside, the Multnomah Street 
Railway in 1883 opened a horsecar line on 13th Street, 
from Montgomery Street north to a connection with their 
Washington Street line. In the same year they constructed 
a line north along 15th Street from Washington to Savier, 
reaching another region of middle-class housing Just east 
of Nob Hill. The Nob Hill area itself was never exclu- 
sively for the wealthy; although many of the blocks boasted 


a single towering household surrounded "by gardens, inter- 
vening blocks were scattered with the small lots and homes 
of lesser merchants and clerks. 

The wealthy might cling to carriages for their trans- 
portation, but there were still large numbers of horsecar 
patrons moving Into the srea. So, in the spring of IS83, 
another company edged Into the race for traffic from the 
northwest section, the Transcontinental Street Railway. 
Ambitiously named, It proceeded on a not-30-ambitious 
track-laying program, vith lines vest on Glisan Street 
from 3rd to lyth, and south on 3rd to Morrison Street in 
the heart of town. Three years later the Transcontinental 
built two parallel lines west from 3rd along Yamhill and 
Morrison Streets to 18th, invading territory served by 
the Multnomah's 13th Street line. By the late i860 1 5 the 
Transcontinental paralleled the Multnomah's main Washing- 
ton Street line within a few blocks on either side. At 
some date before 1889, the Transcontinental apparently 
built another line in Couch's Addition, north from Glisan 
on 13th to Savier and then west to 24th Street. The 
Multnomah, now the Metropolitan Railway Company, met the 
competition by electrifying its lines early In 1390 and 
by extending its tracks north on 23rd and Thurman Streets 
deep Into Willamette Heights in 1891; Willamette Heights 
soon became another region of fairly expensive residences. 


Around 1890 the west aide was the site of intense 
activity in street railways. Electric cars made their 
debut in November of 1889, when the Willamette Bridge 
Railway began running cars from 3rd and Glisan, just 
north of the city center, to Alblna across the Steel 
Bridge. A few months later the horsecars were eliminated 
from the former Multnomah lines. In January of I89O the 
Steel brothers, George and James, opened a new and model 
electric line to the south of Portland. This venture, 
the Metropolitan Railway, was promoted to enhance the 
value of the brothers 1 property in an addition they called 
Fulton Park, some four miles from the city center. The 
Metropolitan entered into a contract with the Sprague 
Electric Company, which had equipped America's first suc- 
cessful electric line less than two years earlier, to 
provide equipment for the suburban road.^ A cable car 
line began operating in Portland in February, 1890, on a 
route running north from Glisan, near the railway term- 
inals, along 5th and Jefferson Streets to 18th. There, 
from the depths of a depression called Goose Hollov, the 
line ascended on a long trestle to Spring Street on Port- 
land Heights and turned west again to end at the city 
limits on the flanks of Council Crest. This monumental 
venture cost stockholders over three-quarters of a million 
dollars and was a financial failure from the first day. 


But it began to sell real estate on the once foreboding 
hills, where view lots at $250 had previously gone beg- 

The major streetcar routes on the west side were 
completed by the early 1890's, although changes were still 
forthcoming. 3y 1895 , when the Portland Street Railway 
ceased its lethargic operations, the west side lines were 
all electric or cable operated. Downtown operations were 
consolidated to reflect the fact that by 1892 all of the 
west side trackage was controlled by three companies: 
the Portland Consolidated Railway, which absorbed the 
Metropolitan properties and an east side line to the Van- 
couver ferry; the City and Suburban Railway, which ab- 
sorbed the Transcontinental properties and those of sev- 
eral lines operating across the river and on the east 
side; and the Portland Cable Railway and its several re- 
ceivers and successors. Street railway tracks spread over 
3rd and 5th Streets with loops of trackage into 1st and 
2nd Streets, and led up Yamhill, Morrison, Jefferson, -..v., 
Washington, and Alder Streets. Conditions on the west 
side were relatively static until about 1900> when the 
cable car line was taken over by the Portland Railway Com- 
pany, -successor to the Portland ConsolidatedMines . The 
Portland Railway soon electrified the cable road from 
Union Station to the base of the trestle in Goose Hollow 

and connected the route into Its lines; the grades on 
the Heights were forbidding enough to save part of the 
cable operations for a few years. 

One intangible but important modification of oper- 
ations appeared sometime in the I690 , s when the two major 
lines — the City and Suburban and the Portland Railway — 
began issuing and accepting transfers between their cars. 
They were apparently free, but were restricted to use at 
certain specified transfer points downtown, and could not 
be used at other points where tracks of the two companies 
crossed. r ;:stlll, : such an innovation meant that most of 
Portland's streetcar lines were operated as part of a sys- 
tem well before all the city lines were brought together 
in 1907- 

In 1904 the last portion of the cable car line was 
abandoned with the opening of a hair-raising electric line 
to Council Crest. This route turned south from the Wash- 
ington Street line onto Vista Avenue, crossed a viaduct 
spanning Tanner Creek and Goose Hollow, and continued to 
the former terminus; in 1908 a loop around the top of the 
Crest was completed and an amusement park opened on the 
summit. The Heights rapidly supplanted Nob Hill as the 
most desirable location for the residences of the wealthy. 

The only other significant alteration in the con- 
figuration of west side cor lines before 1907 was the con- 

struction of a line to the grounds of the Lewis and Clark 
Exposition of 1905, Portland's world's fair. The line 
was retained after the fair to serve industries which 
were located on the former fairgrounds and the inhabitants 
of a "Slabtown" , principally of Scandinavian immigrants, 
which clustered about the site. 5 

Streetcars came to the east side of the river in the 
late 1880' s; the first horsecar line was projected by the 
Willamette Bridge Railway in 188? . In that year tracks 
were laid along Grand Avenue, the principal retail street 
of East Portland, from just below Albina south-to the edge 
of Stephen's Gulch. A branch west on Morrison Street 
carried the horsecars over the new toll bridge to the 
city center by Warch of 1888. In November of 1889 the 
east side was linked to Portland by the electric cars 
from Albina, and the company's other east side lines were 
gradually electrified also. 

The Willamette Bridge apparently began operations 
on the St. Johns line about 1890. Beginning in Albina 
on Williams Avenue, it extended crookedly north and west 
on Williams, Fremont, Mississippi and Albina, Killings- 
worth, Greeley and Lombard Streets to the town of St. 
Johns, leaving in its wake a multiplicity of subdivisions. 
The line was originally powered by steam dummy locomotives, 
but by 1899 electrification had been extended as far as 


Killingsworth and Interstate Streets, leaving only half 
of the route to be covered by the steam cars. The hourly 
connecting steam ■ trains, complete with conductor and tickets, 
were displaced by through electric cars by 1904; with the 
electric cars can-e the 5/ fare, a double-tracked line, 
and a car every twenty minutes, and the subdivisions began 
to sell a few more lots. 10 

About 1900 an alternate route was constructed for the 
St, Johns cars, directly north on Williams to Killings- 
worth Street; this left the trackage on Mississippi and 
Albina Streets to be served by local cars. 

In September, 1888, the Portland and Vancouver Rail- 
way opened a suburban steam line from the east end of the 
Morrison Street Bridge north along Union Avenue. Near 
Portland Boulevard the line swept east for a few blocks 
to serve the subdivision of Wood lawn before - swinging vest 
and. north-? a gain across Columbia Slough, a mile of swamp- 
lands, and Oregon Slough to the ferry terminal on the 
banks of the Columbia. In 1393 electric cars began run- 
ning on the line, and a year later they were operating 
directly to the city center over the new Burnside Bridge.. 
By 1897 cars ran to Vancouver every forty minutes; ad- 
ditional cars terminating at Wood lawn gave service from 
there at twenty-minute intervals* In 1903 Vancouver 
cars were still operating at 40-minute headways, but service 



as far as V/oodlawn hod doubled. 12 

In July of 1903 the Alberta line was opened over the 
Steel i3ridge and along Union Avenue to Alberta Street, to 
terminate at E. 25th and Alberta in a new residential 
district* Also in 1903, a short section of track was 
laid from Union Avenue through Albina on Russell and Sha- 
ver Streets to the Overlook district, probably extending 
downtown over the Burnside Bridge, 

Another 1903 extension was the Broadway line from 
downtown over the Burnside Bridge and along Union Avenue 
and Broadway to E. 21st /'.where it turned south to ter- 
minate at Halsey Street. The Irvington line of 1900 
served part of the sane district; crossing the Steel 
Bridge, it went east on Holladay and 15th Streets to 
Tillamook Street. The Alberta, Broadway, and Irvington 
lines after 1900 provided the first tentative service' 
into the hertofore randomly platted but unsettled tracts 
of land which covered the entire area north of Sullivan's 
Gulch and east df Union Avenue — virtually all of north- 
east Portland . The northeast sector, in the ensuing fif- 
teen years, was to be the location of real estate pro- 
motion and subdivision on a large scale: Rose City Park, 
Beaumont, and Alameda were developed during this period, 
and the Irvington- subdivision, platted in the ISSO's, only 
then became eminently desirable property. -> 

The Portland and Fairview Railroad in 18^0 pro- 
jected a steam line from Portland to Fairview, near 
Troutdale, but settled for the construction of a road 
as far as Montavilla, Montavilla at that tine was the 
creation of a hopeful subdlvider who platted the area 
as Mt. Tabor Villa, only to have the name imrediately 
corrupted to Montavilla. ^ The Montavilla line opened - 
in 1892 on a route over the Morrison Bridge and down 
Grand Avenue, Ankeny Street, E. 28th, and Glisan to 
80th Street, where the tracks turned south to Stark. A 
substantial portion of the route passed through the cen- 
ter of one of William S. Lade's farms, which was not sub- 
divided until 1910. 5 j n about 1894 the route was elec- 
trified, 1 ^ and the line apparently soon became a part of 
the 'city system despite Its long trek across the Ladd 
farm and through unsettled timberlands. 

Little more than half a mile south of the Kontavilla 
line was the Kt • Tabor road, opened in 1888 by the Wil- 
lamette Bridge Railway as a steam dummy line. It began 
at Grand and Morrison Streets in East Portland, where con- 
nections were made with the horsecar lines across the 
Morrison Bridge, and proceeded eastward along Morrison 
and Belmont Streets to about E. 34th Street in Sunnyside. 
In 1889 an extension from Sunnyside was opened to about 
E. 69th and Yamhill Streets on the north side of Mt . 


Tabor, and In 1894 the City and Suburban electrified the 

A mere six blocks south of the Kt. Tabor road were 
the tracks of the Kt . Tabor Street Railroad on Hawthorne 
Street. Steam operations were begun in 1889 from Grand 
Avenue to about E. 50th Street. Service to downtown did 
not come until some time after the opening of the Madison 
Street Bridge in 1891. In 1892 the Hawthorne line was 
acquired by the East Side Railway, which was constructing 
the Oregon City interurban railway. In the same year, 
the Portland, Chicago and Mt. Scott Railway opened a con- 
necting steam dum^y line fron Hawthorne on E. 50th to 
Foster Road and along Foster to 72nd, where the line 
turned south to Woodstock to bring the tracks closer to 
the subdivision of Chicago. The line turned east again 
on V/oodstock to Foster Ro<3d , paralleling it to about 102nd 
Street in Lents. The properties continued under separate 
operation as a suburban steam line until 1901, when they 
were purchased by owners of the Hawthorne line and elec- 
trified. Service on the Hawthorne and Mt. Scott lines 
was apparently quite light until through electric car ser- 
vice was begun, although in 1697 the East Side could at 
least boast of thirty-minute headways on the Hawthorne 
route. 17 Travel to downtown fro^ points beyond 50th and 
Hawthorne required at least two fares and three conveyances, 


an inconvenience not favorable to building up a large 

traffic. As previously related, ; however> rthe intro- 
duction of through service and low commuter fares pro- 
duced a fantastic increase in travel over the lines 
and an equally fantastic increase in residential sales 
and building along the route. 

In December, 1889, the Thompson-Houston Electric 
Company began to build and equip a demonstration electric 
railway in southeast Portland. Thompson-Houston was a 
rival of the Sprague Electric Company for supremacy in 
the new field of electric railways, and held a valuable 
patent on one of the fir$t practical current collection 
devices. 1Q With Sprague Equipping the Metropolitan 1 a 
Fulton Park line, Thompson-Hou&ton needed a local show- 
case. Their exhibition line extended from downtown 
across the Madison Bridge and along E. l2th and Clinton 
Streets to 26th. There the route divided: the Richmond 
line continued east on Clinton to 41st Street while the 
Woodstock branch turned south on 26th to 28th, Gladstone, 
42nd, ahd:,41st Streets to Woodstock. The two line3 were 
opened in 1890; serving a wilderness area, the lines 1 
hopes had to be predicated on the successful sale of resi- 
dential lots in the string of Sir Walter Scott-inspired 
subdivisions which they tapped: Kenilworth, Ivanhoe, 
Richmond, Waverly (sic), Waverleigh Heights (sic) and 

Woodstock. In 1891 the Thompson-Houston lines became 
part of the City and Suburban system, afterwards leading 
rather uneventful lives. The suburban districts along 
their tracks filled up slowly but steadily, and a small 
community grew up at the end of the Woodstock line with 
a post office to proclaim its existence. 

The East Side Railway, which opened a 14-mile electric 
line from the center of Portland to Oregon City in 1893, 
crossed the Madison Bridge and went south on E. 11th Street 
and Milwaukie Avenue to Bybee. There the line turned west 
to the edge of the river bluff and along 13th Street </. 
through the city of Sellwood before striking overland for 
Oregon City. Until 1903 it was an interurban operation of 
increasingly heavy density. That year saw the construc- 
tion of a high-speed water level line from the Madison 
Bridge to Sellwood, and shortly thereafter the original 
line to Sellwood along Milwaukie Avenue became a purely 
local streetcar lin6 running every fifteen to twenty 

One other short east' side route dates from before 
1907, the Brooklyn, probably built in 1902. Crossing 
the river over the Morrison Bridge, it turned south on 
Grand Avenue and crossed Stephen's Gulch; it then turned 
onto Woodvard Street and the Powell Valley Road, crossed 
the Oregon City tracks, and continued east to 21st, where 
it turned south once more to terminate at Bush Street and 


the Southern Pacific's Brooklyn Yards, 

The Few Years of Triu m ph; 1907-1920 

To continue the account of car line extensions and 
operations beyond 1906, the tedious recital process could 
still be used. And it will be, but the existence of a 
more comprehensive collection of information on oper- 
ations does permit something more to be made of the ac- 
count. In addition, there is more of interest to be 
extrapolated from the account of these years: the auto- 
mobile puts in its first appearance, the connection be- 
tween real estate promotion and streetcar extensions be- 
comes explicit, and the patronage of the streetcar system 
reaches its peak. Population increases and decreases can 
be traced to some extent, as can the increase or decrease 
of streetcar patronage; and a new phenomenon becomes 
evident, one to be noticed. 

That phenomenon, is the commuter rush. Particularly 
on older lines, rush-hour travel tends to increase while 
off-peak use remains relatively stable or even declines. 
Whereas in halcyon times the streetcar management could 
count on a fairly steady traffic throughout the day, 
naturally with some marked increase during periods of 
home- to-work and work-to-home travel, an increasing pro- 
portion of patrons now begin to travel only during those 


few hours, to leaver an ever-larger proportion of equip- 
ment and employees needed only for a few peak hours of 
profitable use. The phenomenon is today evident in dis- 
tressing proportions, but it began quite early. The 
streetcar gradually becomes, even by 1920, a vehicle of 
single purpose: commuting, A declining proportion of 
riders, though not a declining number .until after 1920, 
use the streetcar for shopping, for excursions and out- 
ings, and as a general means of urban transit: these are 
the areas in which the automobile first shows its capa- 
bilities, and this is the traffic which is first lost 
for the streetcar. 

The Portland Railway, Light and Power Company took 
over the Portland Railway and the Oregon Water Power and 
Railway properties on the first of January, 1907* thus 
completely consolidating. the city street railway network. 
The PRL&P inherited a vast and somewhat jumbled electric 
railway system in two different gauges, a few. instances 
of parallel routes, and about 60 million yearly passengers. 
Almost immediately the company had to revise traffic pat- 
terns in the downtown area, consolidate lines which had 
previously been operated as separate segments by separate 
companies, and construct loops and interchanges to handle 
the revisions. For several years after the consolidation 
the PRL&P kept some records of its operating procedures 

and revisions; one set of figures is of some interest. 
Between 1907 and I9I3 the company kept an account of the 
minimum and maximum number of cars generally in use on 
each line: the minimum number indicating how many cars 
were needed to provide basic service in day and evening 
off-peak hours, the maximum number those needed to pro-- 
vide peak hour service. Such figures, can reflect trends 
in peak hour and off-peak travel, load increases or de- 
creases on lines, and the growth or lack of it in various 
suburban areas. 

To begin v/ith a possibly poor example, the Fulton 
line, opened in I89O, and in I9O7 extending from the city 
center south some four and a half miles to Riverview 
Cemetery, during the period 1907-1913 used three cars 
in regular off-peak service: an indication of relatively 
low- frequency service. Until 1909 the same three sufficed 
to handle rush-hour traffic as well, but in 1910 a fourth 
was needed, and the next year a fifth. Seemingly the 
Fulton line served an area of low population density, v/ith 
few commuters, and did not experience a great population 
growth during the period, as most other Portland residen- 
tial areas did. 9 Unfortunately, for an account of this 
line at least, such an extrapolation might well be in- 
correct, for a line with a different designation also 
ran over part of the Fulton, lifce, with carsllabeled:;Korth \ 


and South Portland ♦ The North and South Portland cars 
originated in northwest Portland (the exact terminal shift- 
ed three times in the seven years) and carried traffic 
along loth and Glisan Streets to downtown* Passing 
through the city center on 3rd Street they terminated at 
Fulton Park, although during certain unspecified periods 
they too continued all the way to the cemetery* Sta- 
tistics on the number of cars in use on the North and 
South Portland line confuse things further: in 1907, 
at least ten cars were needed, falling to seven in 1908 
and reaching eight from 1909 on; the number in use at 
peak hours was 19 in 1907, falling to 16 two years later, 
and rising fitfully into the twenties thereafter to 
register 28 in 1913* The figures tell little but that 
peak hour usage increased while off-peak travel remained 
somewhat stable. Complications arise from the frequent 
changes made in the" length and route of the line, and it 
is impossible to ascertain why, or where — between Guild's 
Lake and Riverview Cemetery — traffic was fluctuating. A 
study by the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company in 
1916 does show, however, that iiorthwest Portland exper- 
ienced an increase in population during the years 1910- 
1916, while a population decrease amounting to perhaps 
3,000 persons occurred in South Portland and Fulton. ^0 
The increase in the number of cars used on the North and 


South Portland line may then reflect only increased 
peak hour traffic from the northwest, and perhaps the 
carrying of workers to manufacturing plants which did 
develop in the Fulton area. 

The lines in northwest Portland — Couch's Addition — 
were the revised structurings of the horaecar lines of 
the middle and late 1880' s; they served an area , now, in 
1907, long open to development. Still, in the years after 
1907, the population of the area increased somewhat, 2 -'- 
as did consequently the use of the streetcar in trans- 
porting people to and from downtown. On the 23rd Street 
line, on Washington, Bumside, and 23rd Streets, the 10- 
minute headways of 1897 become 7-minute headways by I9O3 
and 5 minutes several years later. 22 Between 1907 and 
1913> five to six cars handled off-peak travel on the line, 
• -while the number required at peak periods increased from 
ten to 16, and in 1910 tripper cars began turning back 
at 23rd and Love Joy. On the Portland Heights-Council 
Crest line, four to five cars usually sufficed, but after 
1908 rush hour needs increased: ten cars were required 
t>y 1913. The later increases in traffic on the Portland 
Heights-Council Crest and 23rd Street-Lovejoy lines can 
in part be attributed to theffact that three wholly new 
lines appeared in west side Portland after 1911s all 
three were shuttle routes connecting with those lines. 
All three were also West Hills real estate promotion 


lines. The first was the Kings Heights line, opened in 
1911 from 23rd and Burnside up the canyon of King's Creek 
and north into the subdivision of Kings Heights. It was 
built by the Heights Company, the developers, and was 
operated by the PRL&P under contract. A mile-long ex- 
tension of the route, owned by the United Railways and 
also operated by the PRL&P under contract, continued west 
to Mt. Calvary Cemetery. 2 ^ In October, ■1913, the'Same- 
Heights Company constructed the Arlington Heights line, 
branching from the Kings Heights line into the hills on 
the south side of the canyon; again the PRL&P was guaran- 
teed an initially profitable operation by the developer. 
A few months earlier the Lewis, Wiley Hydraulic Company 
persuaded the PRL&P to operate their car line from 23rd 
and Northrup Streets into the development of Ve stover 
Terrace, Just north of Kings Heights, in return for §500 
monthly and an agreement by Lewis, Wiley to own and main- 
tain the track. All three lines served new and expensive 
residential districts which had the disadvantages, from 
the standpoint of streetcar operations, of not acquiring 
population rapidly, of attracting a decidedly upper class 
population, and of purposely requiring a very low density 
of population. In 1916 perhaps thirty families lived 
along the Arlington Heights line, forty on the Westover 
Terrace line, twenty on the Kings Heights line . 2 ^:\:With; the 
rapid conversion to automobile use among the wealthy — and 

virtually only the affluent could live in the Heights — 
these three lines became abysmally unprofitable to the 
PRL&P when it ceased contract operations in the 1920's . 

On other west side lines — the 13th Street line be- 
tween Washington and Montgomery, the South Fifth Street 
local, the 16th Street line in northwest Portland, the 
Montgomery cars on 11th Street to Montgomery and 16th, 
the Jefferson line over part of the old cable route, and 
the Hospital shuttle car on Glisan from 21st to 24th 
Streets — the number of cars used and the frequency of 
service remained quite stable, with rush hour increases; 
and it may be assumed that the population of the area 
was relatively stable as well. 

On the east side, the St. Johns line still lingered 
in a suburban atmosphere; a schedule was published for 
the route since cars ran on headways of twenty minutes 
or less. After 1905 tripper runs were established on 
Williams Avenue, and St. Johns cars ran nonstop from the 
bridge to Killingsworth Street. Again, off-peak service 
remained stable through 1913, although the route was 
lengthened in 1911 with the construction of a loop through 
the north peninsula on Wall, Fessenden, and St, Louis 
Streets. But the number of cars necessary in rush hours 
was eight in 1907, and thirty in 1913 — six times the off- 
peak fleet of five. An extension from the end of the St. 

Johns line to the Municipal Terminal was opened in the 
closing months of 1920; this line was an obvious effort v. 
to provide transit access to a new point of employment. 
One of the last streetcar routes constructed, it was also 
one of the first to fall to the buses: the track was ' 
torn up again in 1929* 

The Mississippi line after 1907 used an increasing 
number of cars as the open spaces in upoer Albina were 
covered with homes. A shuttle line which funneled traffic 
onto the Mississippi cars opened in 1909; tapping a pre- 
viously inaccessible area north of Killingsworth between 
the St. Johns and Union Avenue-Vancouver tracks, the Kenton 
line went north on Albina to Lombard and Derby Streets, 
terminating at Kllpatrick Street. At that terminal con- 
nections could be made with the Kenton Traction Company 
which ran still farther north to the new Swift packing 
plant on Oregon Slough and to several other industrial 
plants. The Kenton Traction v/as apparently affiliated 
with industrial real estate promotion; it was not associa- 
ted with the PRL&P and': it cost another nickel to ride it, 
but it did extend the network of streetcar travel to a 
previously remote and useless area and permitted Swift 
and Company to depend on a supply of automobileless work- 
ers despite its location a mile and a half from inhabited 
lands. From 1912 the Mississippi cars ran all the way to 


Derby and Kilpatrick Streets, eliminating the Killings- 
worth transfer. 

Four different car lines ran on Union Avenue in 
1907T the Vancouver interurban passed by every thirty to 
forty minutes without stopping; local cars to Woodlav:n 
near the; city line went by every ten minutes; Alberta 
cars ran a3 far north as Alberta Street about every twenty 
minutes; and every four to six minutes a Union Avenue 
tripper covered much of the route. The only major change 
in the Vancouver route was the demise of the ferry run in 
I9I7 when the Interstate Bridge was opened and Vancouver 
cars for once went directly to Vancouver. Woodlawn, being 
an old suburb, produced a steady patronage; the line was 
extended east on Dekum Street to 24th Street by 1913. The 
extension resulted in sharply increased rush hour car re- 
quirements. The Alberta line, tapping a relatively new 
residential area, showed a dramatic increase in service 
between I9O7 and 1913 and the line was extended east to 
30th arid Ainsworth Streets by 1909. The four to ten cars 
on the route in 1907 became six to twenty cars five years 

The short Irvlngton line had but a minor blossoming. 
Its length nearly doubled in 1910 when the terminus on 
15th Street in lower Irvington moved a mile northward 
to Prescott Street in the Alberta district, but from three 


to five cars carried all the passengers. Irvington was a 
fairly expensive suburb from the 1890's, and no working 
class mass thronged to the cars. 

The Broadway cars, skirting the lower end of Irving- 
ton, placidly carried patrons to 21st and Halsey Streets 
until 1909. Late in that year the terminal was changed 
to 24th and Broadway, and a few months later a shuttle 
car began operating on 24th from Broadway to Fremont, a 
half mile north. In March, 1911, the Alameda Park Land 
Company opened a quarter mile of track from Fremont to 
29th and Mason Streets, with the PRL&P again contracting 
to provide service. The shuttle car was soon discontinued 
in favor of through cars, and a parallel track north from 
Broadway on 22nd Street provided a double-tracked line. 
Again, penetrating an undeveloped area, the service multi- 
plied in frequency in rather few years . 

The short East Ankeny line, a shuttle service over 
the Montavilla line from E. 28th and Glisan, shifted its 
terminal to a few blocks north of Glisan on Sandy Road. 
From this point, in 1907, the real estate firm of Hartman 
and Thompson constructed a line on Sandy to E. 67th Street 
to serve their immense subdivision of Rose City Park. 
Once again the PRL&P was contracted to operate the cars, 
and Hartman and Thompson pointedly referred to the direct 
streetcar to downtown in their promotional literature. 


"Portland is the wealthiest and fastest growing 
city in the United States. ROSE CITY PARK in its 
most desirable residence section. It has every 
modern improvement, 10 minute street car service, 
city water, electric lights, telephones, graded 
streets, cement sidewalks and curbs, and a building 
restriction of §1,500, rigidly enforced. No sa- 
loons. No business except on sites specially re- 
served. 11 ^ 

In 1912 the line was continued to 82nd Street and a con- 
nection with the Troutdale Electric Railway, operating 
a street railway in Parkrose. 2 ° Late in 1911 the Beau- 
mont Land Company contracted with the PRL&P for the op- 
eration of a stub line from Sandy Road and 42nd Street 
on 42nd to . ; 41£tt:and The Alameda, During peak hours through 
cars ran to and from downtown, an arrangement made per- 
manent in 1914 • 

The East Ankeny tripper car continued to run until 
1911, when the opening of the former Ladd farm as the sub- 
division of Laurelhurst prompted an alteration to continue 
alternate cars on Glisan direct to the real estate office. 
In 1912 the section on 28th Street was extended across 
Sullivan's Gulch to Halsey Street, and a year later the 
line dissolved to become only the East 28th Street shuttle 
car between G-lisan and Halsey, with Rose City Park and 
Montavilla cars handling traffic for Laurelhurst. 

On the Montavilla route, the number of cars necessary 
to serve the increasing passenger load nearly doubled in 
six years. In 1911 a stub line was opened. from 80th and 


Glisan to 90th and north to Irving and the Montavllla 
depot of the Mt. Hood Railway and Power Company, a sickly 
would-be interurban line heading for Bull Run. In 1913 
Montavllla cars began alternating between the two ter- 

To the south, the Mt. Tabor line stretched east 
another twenty blocks to 88th and Yamhill in 1912 with 
the Altamead extension, possibly also a real estate pro- 
ject. In 1909 tripper cars to Sunnyside (E. 34th Street) 
began running; Mt. Tabor cars ran every ten minutes, with 
a Sunnyside car every ten minutes in between. Between 
1910 and 1916 the Sunnyside district experienced a de- 
crease in population of about 600, but districts to the 
east along the Mt. Tabor line absorbed at least three 
times that number in the same period. 27 

Along the : -r Hawthorne and Mt. Scott routes, to pro- 
vide vivid testimony to the growth of population along 
the once-rural right of way, service frequencies Increased 
at a very rapid rate. On the Hawthorne line, until 1913 
merely a tripper service to E. 50th Street, cars ran on 
headways of 7§ to 20 minutes; the three to five cars of 
1907 became four to seventeen cars in 1912. In 1913 
the tracks were extended on Hawthorne, 54th, Lincoln and 
60th Streets to Division. The Murraymead shuttle line 
was opened in the same year from Hawthorne Street on 20th 
and Harrison to 30th Street. A short-lived and insig- 


nif leant line, the Murraymead shuttle tapped the eastern 
edge of Ladd's Addition, a 1910 subdivision, and newly 
developed lands between Hawthorne and Division Streets, 
but a single car could carry all the traffic. 

The Mt. Scott line had cars every ten to twenty min- 
utes In 1909> requiring from four to sixteen cars to main- 
tain Its headways, but by 1912 twelve csrs were never off 
the line and 4-2 were needed to carry a crush of comnuters 
every morning and evening. The population Increase along 
the Mt. Scott track between 1910 and 1916 was greater 
than that along any other route in the city." 

On the Richmond and Woodstock lines too, residential 
areas, accessible by streetcar since 1890, were still ab- 
sorbing new homeowners, though at a slower rate. Rich- 
mond and Woodstock cars each ran every'* twenty minutes, 
a headway reduced to 17 minutes in 1913 when the Wood-, 
stock line was extended along Woodstock to 57th Street. 

The Sellwood line by 1909 had cars every fifteen 
minutes; off-peak service remained fairly constant there-* 
after while rush hour traffic experienced the familiar 
explosive growth. In 1912 a shuttle run was lnagurated 
from the Sellwood line at Milwaukle Avenue and Bybee on 
Bybee and 32nd to Rex Street In the subdivision of East 
Moreland. The East Moreland line was constructed by the 
Ladd Estate Company to provide access to their properties, 
and was again a contract operation with the PRL&P. Al- 

though as late as 1916 less than ten families lived in 
East iMoreland, the car shuttled back and forth every 
twelve minutes, perhaps carrying prospective investors, 
and also carrying construction materials and later stu- 
dents to Reed College. 2 ^ The East Moreland line, like 
the west side Heights lines, was a subsidized project 
which may have served its purposes for the initial real 
estate subdividers, but which failed to produce enough 
revenue of itself to be a profitable operation after the 
realtor ceased to subsidize it. East Moreland too was 
designed to be a fairly expensive suburb of low population 
density, and the lots did not sell quickly. As a con- 
sequence, the East Moreland line was the first streetcar 
line to be replaced by buses, which took over the route 
in 1926. 

Late in 1915 the Fred A. Jacobs Company, another 
real estate firm, opened a free electric line from 32nd 
and Knapp Streets in East Moreland along Knapp to 52nd 
Street. This, the Errol Heights line, also ran every 
twelve minutes to connect with the East Moreland cnr, 
but at first only between six and ten in the morning and 
three and eight in the evening, and it averaged 300 pass- 
engers a day. Probably in 1914 the Jacobs Company v- - 
reached an agreement with the reluctant PRL&P to assume 
operations on the line. The line was poorly built and 


had to be reconstructed by the realtor, who also sub- 
sidized the line thereafter. 

The East Moreland and Errol Heights subdivisions 
were both developed toward the end of the streetcar. era, 
at a moment when it began to become apparent that the 
automobile was a coming thing* East Moreland had its 
streetcar line like every other major development of the 
time, but all its streets were paved before the lots went 
on sale. This wars an almost novel concept: the Rose 
City Park development of 1907 boasted of graded streets 
and paved sidewalks, but East Moreland paved the streets,, 
paved Bybee to Milwaukle Avenue, and paved Woodstock to 
41st Street. That was a rather farsighted maneuver since 
streets in Woodstock were still gravel and mud in 1920,^0 
The west side Heights lines and the East Moreland line 
provide an insight into what was in store for therstreet 
railway and its position as the seller of lots and the 
builder of homes: even in 1912 allowances had to be made 
for the automobile, and a streetcar line alone could not 
provide the magic touch to raise property values . 


Although passenger^ total statistics are not available for 
individual lines, they are available as totals for the 
entire PRL&P system for a scattering of years, as are 
totals for the company's interurban operations, A re- 


view of these figures illustrates the o street car- riding 
patternsuto the 1920 , s: city passenger totals rise dra- 
matically until 1914, . fall equally dramatically for two 
years, and then rise again to peak in 1919 at a figure 
nearly double that of 1908; they fall gradually until 
the mid-1920 1 s when the long downward plunge begins • 
Interurban patronage on PRL&P lines shows erratic increases 
confused by accounting irregularities with certain "city" 
lines, but traffic peaks a year earlier than on the city 
lines and falls at a much more rapid rate thereafter. 

In I9O8 the PRL&P reported over 54 million passengers 
on their city lines and nine and a half million on the • 
interurban lines. Until 1914 the designation "interurban" 
included traffic from four lines which were .actually city 
lines, but which were of standard gauge; the rest of the 
city system was of narrow gauge trackage. Two years later, 
in 1910, the city lines carried over 70 million riders and 
the interurban roads sixteen and three-quarter million; 
much of the increase in the interurban total can be at- 
tributed to traffic on the Mt. Scott line, which was ac- 
tually part of the city system. In 1911 the city lines 
again increased their traffic, while the interurban lines 
registered a slight decrease apparently as the result of 
the completion of several hydroelectric projects which 
had involved carrying workers to remote damsites on the 

Clackamas. 3-*- Year-by-year figures are unavailable to 
help explain the situation in 1912-1917; in 1914 the 
city lines carried over 85 million passengers , but a good 
part of the increase was due to the transfer of accounts 
of the Mt. Scott, Hawthorne , Sellwood and Oaks lines to 
the city railway totals. In the same year the interurban 
division showed, naturally, a substantial loss in traffic, 
but the city lines did not evidence a truly healthy in- 
crease. For 1914 was the first year of the great jitney 
plague . 

Apparently a sudden phenomenon which struck most of 
the nation at altoost the same Instant, the jitney plague 
consisted of private citizens possessing an automobile 
who made a practice of driving about picking up passengers 
at streetcar stops and taking them to their destinations 
for 5^. A rumor spread that the practice was extremely 
profitable, and that one could pay for the cost of one's 
automobile in a few ; months of jitneying. As a consequence, 
people reportedly purchased automobiles on the assumption 
that, though they could 111 afford one on their own In- 
comes, the revenues from a few months of rush hour Jit- 
neying would more than make ownership possible: it would 
even make It profitable. For a couple of years, the jitney 
was a serious menace to streetcar traffic; it was unregu- 
lated, irresponsible (both legally and rhetorically), un- 

insured, it generally provided service only at peak 
hours, and streetcar officials, hackmen, and taxi drivers 
hated them.^ 2 By 1916 they were regulated out of ex- 
istence in almost all cities, Including Portland, but 
the economics of jitney operation had by that time proven 
themselves specious anyway. Traffic totals, after show- 
ing a sudden drop of 11 million riders by 1916, began 
climbing again despite a violently unpopular fare in- 
crease to 6^.33 in Portland, the total rldership In 1916 
on city car lines was about that of 1911, although over 
thirty miles of heavily-traveled main line (the Haw- 
thorne, Mt. Scott, Sellwood, and Oaks lines) had been 
added to the system since 1914 and several miles of new 
line had been constructed during that period. But in 
1917 it was up again to nearly 85 million, and in a final 
burst of outward prosperity ridership passed 90 million 
in 1918 and peaked in 1919 at an incredible 100,301,800; 
1920 showed only a slight decrease. There was no denying 
the streetcar a place in Portland's transportation scheme; 
statistically, in 1919 every resident of the city made 500 
trips by streetcar. The first face-to-face encounter with 
the automobile had been won; real estate developers clear- 
ly recognized the impact of streetcar service on the value 
of their lots; and mobility within the city was calculated 
on the availability of ad-equate streetcar service. 


The Interurban Lines 

Although this thesis is concerned primarily with 
streetcars and urban transit, it is obvious that many of 
the streetcar lines of 1920 had begun 3 8 suburban or in- 
terurban services and evolved into local car lines as 
traffic increased along,..the tracks, and the city spread 
outward along them. By 1907 all but three of the electric 
lines in the Portland area had acquired the attributes of 
urban streetcar lines: the 5^ fare, the free transfer, 
stops at every street corner, and headways frequent enough 
that a schedule was superfluous: a car would be along 
every few minutes. The three exceptions were also pro- 
perties of the PRL&P: the Oregon City line, which since 
1903 possessed a high-speed private right of way out of 
Portland, the Gazadero line with its new branch to Trout- 
dale, and the Vancouver line. Between 1907 and 1917 & 
number of independent electric interurban lines were 
built out from Portland — several hundred miles of them. 
Although they could be said to'fall outside the scope 
of this thesis, they do have some bearing on the growth 
of Portland as a "streetcar" city: they were the logical 
extension of the possibilities of electric transportation 
on steel tracks, they promoted the growth of still more 
distant suburbs, and, like the city lines built in the 
same. period, they felt the impact of the automobile even 


as they were being constructed. They had one other at- 
tribute common to streetcar services: they were blessed 
and cursed with tracks through downtown streets. This 
enabled the interurbans to provide the appreciated con- 
venience of local, corner to corner stops in the city 
center, where most of the passengers* were destined. But 
it also meant a frustratingly slow exit from the city 
which became simply another point against the electric 
cars and in favor of the automobile as an agent of sub- 
urban transportation. As an extension of the promise and 
practice of the streetcar, the interurban deserves a 
place in this account. 

In the last few years of the electric fever, several 
interurban lines developed in Portland to cast a brief 
spell: /-the Oregon Electric came in 1908, the United 
Railways in 1909, the Mt • Hood Railway in 1913, and the 
Southern Pacific electrification In 1914. The inter- 
urban lines of the early twentieth century made possible 
the conversion of distant rural communities — Burlington, 

Garden Home, Oswego, Tu&latin, Beaverton, even Hillsboro 

and Forest Grove — ti bedroom towns. The abrupt rise and 

fall of these later interurbans, and the effects of their 
growth, mirror the rise and fall of the urban street rail- 
way, but in a much briefer time span: the streetcar came 
to Portland In 1872 and left in 1950, while the Interurban 


lines built after 1907 were in effectfgoiie twenty years 

The interurban lines of the Portland Railway, Light 
and Power Company comprised the main line to Oregon City 
built in 1893, the river-grade track from the Madison 
Bridge to Sell-wood constructed in 1903, and the Spring- 
water division to Gresham and the upper Clackamas River, 
which was also opened in part in 1903. An extension was 
constructed in 1907 from the Springwater division to- 
Troutdale, and in 1912 the PRL&P took over the properties 
of the Mt . Hood Railway and Power Company, which had a 
steam line from Montavilla to Bull Run, crossing the 
Troutdale extension,^ 

The Oregon City line, the main line of the system, 
did not fare well in the depression of 1893 and passed 
through nearly a decade of receivership before becoming 
part of the Oregon Water Power network in 1902. Traffic 
on the line continually increased during this period, 
however, and the effects on property values and suburban 
development have been noted previously • The hourly day- 
time service of 1893 gave way to 45-rainute headways by 
1897 > and in 1908 to half-hourly headways until 9 pm and 
hourly until midnight, with rush hour tripper cars to Oak 
Knoll and Milwaukie.35 

The Springwater division, first opened in 1903 to 
carry materials and workers to the PRL&P 1 s hydroelectric 


projects on the Clackamas, seemed unpromising as a 
suburban passenger carrier at that time: the only town 
on the route was Gresham with a population of 200, and 
a single mixed freight and passenger train sufficed to 
handle the traffic. But development along the line was 
explosive. Small farms and suburban homes grew up in a 
manner fijfc to prove the assumption that electric cars 
had magical effects on property values. In 1904 the 
Springwater division scheduled seven daily trains of, two 
or more cars in each direction, plus weekend extras" to. 
recreation areas along the river. In 1908 there were 
thirteen trains each way, seven of which continued beyond 
Gresham to Estacada and the end of the line at Cazadero. 
The Troutdale extension, opened in 1907, was somehow not 
so successful; through cars were not operated to Portland, 
but connections were convenient and eleven cars were :=. -V : . 
scheduled to -operate in each direction daily in 1908.^6 

The other PRL&P interurban was rather an orphan. 
The line was laid by the Kt. Hood Railway in 1911 from 
a connection with the Union Pacific near Montavilla 
south to the northern edge of Gresham and east to the 
small community of Bull Run. and another hydroelectric 
project. It was built as a steam-operated line to supply 
construction materials, but after the PRL&P acquired the 
line in 1912 it was decided to electrify it, a project 
completed in 1913 • The only connections with other PRL&P 

lines were a crossing with the Troutdale branch, where 
passenger connections were problematical at best, and 
a transfer to the local Montavllla streetcar. So, still 
in 1913, the Troutdale cars were rerouted at the crossing 
to connect at Montavllla and Bull Run cars were run through 
to Portland, but even this alteration did not prompt the 
growth in traffic and suburban construction which followed 
the opening of the Cazadero line a decade earlier: the 
interurban was losing its hold on outer suburban travel 
even at this early date, and tboth the Troutdale and Bull 
Run services were discontinued in the 1920* s. 37 

A Portland interurban road with a disconcerting his- 
tory was the United Railways, previously mentioned in 
connection with the streetcar line which it built, under 
duress, to Mt. Calvary, The United opened an electric 
line early in 1909 from Portland north and west along 
the former shores of Guild's Lake and along St, Helens.: 1 
Road to Linnton and Burlington, where the affiliated Ruth 
Trust Company was prepared to sell you a lot in their 
townsite. The Hill interests, through the Spokane, 

Portland and Seattle, purchased the United in the spring 


of 1909, and its progress thereafter is confusedly linked 
with the unfathomable maneuvers of the Hill and Harriman 
interests to attain or retain control over certain aspects 
of Portland transportation. Avoiding a discussion of why 
the United was built at all after Hill acquired it, it 


must be kept in mind that the reasons were not economic 
ones: the United maintained total insolvency for decades* 
In 1910 the United did carry 336,000 passengers between 
Portland and suburban Linnton and Burlington, with a 
train every hour. In the next year service was extended 
to North Plains; and Wilkesboro in the upper Tualatin 
Valley via an immense and immensely expensive tunnel over 
Cornelius Pass in the West Hills, However, the vast bulk 
of the passenger traffic was always between Burlington 
and Portland. The northern Tualatin Valley was sparsely 
settled, and Just a few miles south was the earlier line 
of the Oregon Electric, also a Hill property. Traffic on 
the United 1 s inner sections burgeoned: nearly half a 
million passengers were carried in 1912, over 820,000 in 
1914, But on April 1, 1915, electric service between 
Portland and Linnton was discontinued and three and a half 
miles of track were removed. Thereafter the electric cars, 
with decreasing frequency through the years, went from 
Linnton to Burlington and Wilkesboro, connecting with 
steam trains on the Astoria line for passengers going to 
Portland. Traffic fell to nothing in 1922 and the wires 
were taken down. The reasons for the discontinuance of 
the Portland-Linnton line revolved about a franchise clause 
which guaranteed a 5/ fare between Linnton and Portland, 
a fare which was prohibitively unr exonerative ; the fight 

dragged through several courts before an ultimatum 
was delivered to the United: the 5^ fare or the revo- 
cation of trackage rights on St. Helens Road. Since 
Hill interests owned a steam road between Portland and 
Linnton, and since the 5^ fare was ridiculous, the 
United did not hesitate to give up its franchise, leaving 
outraged Linnton with no further battles to fight. They 
notyonly lost the cherished nickel fare, they lost the 
entire railroad, and the area never quite recovered. 37* 

The Oregon Electric Railway began services from • 
Portland on the first of January, 1908, with two trains 
a day to Salem, fifty miles away. By the end of the year 
a branch had been constructed west from Garden Home into 
the Tualatin Valley. In 1909, there were 38 trains a day 
on the OE, both to Wileonville and Salem and to Beaver- 
ton, Hillsboro, and Forest Grove, as well as a few locals. 
Although fares were as high as on the competing Southern 
Pacific steam lines, commute tickets to Garden Home and 
intermediate points sold for 1^ per mile, and a computer 
populace rapidly appeared. The OE tried for more than 
local traffic: it added parlor cars and express trains, 
completed its line to Eugene in 1912 and added feeder 
lines to Woodburn and Corvallis, and placed sleeping cars 
on the night train to Eugene. Biitl9l6, in addition to 
numerous local suburban trains, the OE dispatched^ Sixteen 
daily long distance trains. -5 

Rival ex-Harriman interests (the Southern Pacific) 
could not let this affront go by. So, for glory, not 


for money, the Southern Pacific went into the suburban 
and interurban electric railway business in Portland by 
electrifying several of its west side local lines. In 
January, 1914, service began over two routes between 
Portland and McMinnville, one via Oswego and Nevberg, the 
other via Hillsboro and. Forest Grove. By 1916 the SP 
was sending out at least nineteen trains daily, including 
six to Forest Grove and nine to McMinnville.^ The route 
was extended down the Willamette Valley until it reached 
Corvallis in I917. The entire route was over existing 
SP trackage, and freight trains still used steam loco- 
motives. Electrification was something of a glamor move. 
It was not a very successful move, foremost of the passen- 
gers were commuters from Tualatin, Beaverton, and Oswego; 

traffic was light on the rest of the system. 

Both the ['green cars" of .the Oregon Electric and the 
"big red cars" of the Southern Pacific made a short and 
sudden impression on Portland and Oregon life. The rapid 
growth of short-distance commuter traffic marked the ap- 
pearance of a totally suburban population which took the 
family auto to the train and the train to the city. When 
the roads improved, the auto went all the way to the city; 
the SP began cutting trains from its schedules in 1924, 
the OE in 1926, and by 1933 the interurban electric existed 
in Portland only on the Oregon City line and part of the 
Springwater division.'* 1 



A splendid Illumination of the attitudes which con- 
ditioned the popularity of the suburban streetcar an3 the 
electric interurban is the following effusive passage dis- 
tributed by the '* Portland Railway, Light and Power. Company . 
through a pamphlet entitled "Health, Wealth and Happiness 
on Ten Acres." 

"Suburban life I What a pleasant sound the phrase 
has 1 . Repeat it, and your mind's ear thrills to the 
music of meadow larks and robins, of tumbling creeks 
and fiddling crickets: yes, too, of lowing kine 
and cackling farm fowl. Your mind's eye greets the 
tinted dawn (the dawn, you remember, — so different 
in the country) or sweeps the sunny slopes at noon, 
or lingers on the shadowy hills at even, 

'Breathes there a man with soul so dead 
That to himself he hath not said: 
'I'm going to own a house in the country'? Especial- 
ly a bungalow (magic word) and five or ten acres on 
an electric line near some fine modern city. 

J! Heaven blegs the man that invented electric lines, 
and so made'* town and country one — solving, doubtless, 
the problem of the ages: the overcrowding of muni- 
cipalities The-electric car, clean and handy,— 

thetpoor man's auto and the nabob's convenience; 
democratic, accomodating — stopping, without fuss or 
trouble, at every cross roads — the electric car is 
the builder of suburbs, the seller of 'acreage', 
the maker of Joy in farm life." 

from the Pacific Monthly , 

June 1908 

It is quite possible that a subdued and implicit 
vision of the rural virtues pictured here coupled with 
the promise of its fulfillment by the electric cars was 
a forceful vision in the new industrial society which de- 

veloped between 1880 and 1920. All of the other points 
which have been related to the growth of urban and sub- 
urban streetcar transit in this period — the growth of 
suburbs, the connection between land values and trans- 
portation access, the development of the transfer point 
as a looal trade center, the maintainance and strength- 
ening of the city center as the focal point of commerce 
and retail trade — are basically related to the attitudes 
expressed in that one passage. The actual notion' of liv- 
ing on a small farm a few miles form some fine modern 
city could be seriously entertained by relatively few 
people, but the vast majority of people who came to and 
grew up in Portland could and did seriously entertain the 
idea of living at some distance from the city, of keeping 
perhaps a few cackling farm fowl, of hearing robins and 
meadowlarks, and of still being in cheap and easy reach 
of the employment, shopping, and cultural attractions of 
the fine modern city. 

If overcrowding was indeed the problem of the ages, 
the streetcar did to a great extent "solve" that problem. 
But by -.*1920 .> it ., seemed! the .automobile might solve it even 
better* The streetcar, the electric interurban, and the 
automobile all worked toward the end of dispersing popu- 
lation to attain the rural virtues of privacy, self-suf- 
ficiency, quiet, and fresh air while retaining the urban 

virtues of commercial and Industrial employment, a vide 
selection of things to buy, events to attend, markets to 
sell In, and people to encounter. 

A statement of wl^at the streetcar era left as a 
relatively permanent legacy to Portland can be couched 
In similar terms* Basically; attitudes toward city; 
country, and ".suburb have not changed radically since the 
demise of the streetcarr a&'i has been stated, the 
automobile is simply a more flexible instrument for the 
Implementation, on a much wider scale, of the same 
program of home life in the country and business life 
in the city; Ths principal remnants of the streetcar 
era are not so much the radial street patterns; the 
small retail centers surrounding the one large center; 
or even simply the dispersal of population: the 
important legacy is the home; one for each family; 
surrounded by grass, trees, and gardens, and set off from 
contamination by Industrialism (a term to include every- 
thing from the sawmill to the local drug store), A 
home of one's own in a guiet suburb has been a dominant 
concern, in Portland and over the nation, from the 1880 1 s 
to.~ the --present day, . . ,...,.,-, . - 


Chapter I 

1 Sam Warner, Jr., Streetcar Suburbs: The Process of 
Growth In Boston, 1870-1900 (Cambridge. Mass.. 1962), 
pp. 43-^5. 

2 Warner, pp. 11-14. 

5 History of Portland, Oregon, ed. Harvey W. Scott 
(Syracuse, 1890), pp. 112, 114; Stewart H. Holbrook, 
Far Corner (New York, 1952), pp. 109-111. 

^ Scott, p.. 64. 

5 Scott, p. 443. 

6 Holbrook, p. 110* 

7 Holbrook, p. 111. 

8 Scott, p. 114. 
* Scott, p. 143. . 

10 Scott, pp. 144, 146. 

11 Scott, pp. 159-168. 

12 Scott, pp. 168-173, 262. 

^ City of Portland, Annexation maps. 

Chapter II 

1 Randall V. Mills, Sternwheelers up Columbia (Palo Alto, 
1947), PP. 172-173. 

2 Mills, p. 170; Randall V. Mills, Railroads Down the 
Valleys (Palo Alto, 1950), p. 86." 

3 Mills, Railroads , p. 74. 

^ Mills, Railroads , p. 74. 

-* City of St. Johns, St. Johns on the Willamette.,. 
(St. Johns, Ore., 19(H) . 

Laurence Pratt, ^ Remember Portland; 1899-1915 (Port- 
land, 1965 ), PP. 63-64. 


7 Randall V. Mills 1 , "Early Electric Interurbans in Oregon: 
I: Forming the Portland Railway, Liffht and Power Sys- 
tem," 0H£, XLIV, No. 1 (March 1943), 93. 

8 Mills, "Early Electric Interurbans .. .J"; .. ," 93* 

^ Mills, "Early Electric Interurbans .. .1 ..., " 93. 

Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company, Survey of 
Portland (Portland, October 1916 ) . 

See, e.g., Prank Sterrett, ""For 75 years Rich's, 'a 
movable landmark 1 ," Sunday Oregonlan , March 23, 
1969, Sec. F, p. 1. 

c Fred Lpckley, History of the Columbia River Valley 
from the Dalles to the Sea (Chicago, 1928), p. 510. 

3 Lockley, p. 510;- Percy I-laddux, City on the Willamette 
(Portland, 1952), pp. 98-99- 

^ Mills, "Early Electric Interurbans .. .1 ..., " 92.,.. 

16 See, e.g., assorted promotional pamphlets, Oregon 
Historical Society and Multnomah County Library; 
see also V/illiam F. Ogburn and Delvin Peterson, 
"Political Thought of Social Classes," Pol. 5c i. 
Quar. , XXXI, No7 2 (June 1916), 303-304. 

' The East Horeland line was the first to be converted 
to bus operation/ in 1926; the Heights lines lasted 
into the 1930's, but only because parts of the lines 
were on private right of way. 

Frank Rowsome, Jr., Trolley Car Treasury (New York, 
1956), p. 99. 

19 Mills, "Early Electric Interurbans. .. I. .. ," 95./ , 

20 Kills, "Early Electric Interurbans ... I ..., " 95.. 

21 Mills, "Early Electric Interurbans...!...," 95... * 

22 Mills, Railroads , p. 81. 

2 ^ Mills, "Early Electric Interurbans .. .1 ..., " 83.,... „ 

24 Mills, Railroads , p. 81. 

2 5 Harley K. Hallgren. and John F. Due, United Railways of 
Oregon (San Marino, Calif., 1961), p. 14. 


ta( ° Hallgren and Due, p. 14. 

27 Mills, "Early Electric Interurbans. . .1. . . , M 96. 

2 ° Rowsome, p. 103 . 

Chapter III 

1 Lockley, p. 507; Maddux, p. 96. 

2 Scott, pp. 430-431 ; Richard Marlitt, Nineteenth Street 
. (Portland, 1968). 

3 Scott, p. 432. 

^ Marlitt, Nineteenth Street . ' 

5 Scott, pp. 611, 621. 

6 Lockley, p. 510; Maddux, pp. 98-99. 

' Portland Railway Company', Portland Traction Company, 
East Side Railway Company, "Christian Endeavorers' Guide 
of Portland, Oregon. . ,V" (Portland, l897K-hereafter 
cited as "Guide" . 

8 Marlitt, p. 5. 

5 Unpubl. thesis (Reed College, 1918) by Libbie Krichensky, 
"A study of immigration in Portland, Oregon," p. 18. 

10 Pratt, pp. 63-64. 

11 Portland Railway et al., "Guide". 

12 Portland Railway Company, "The Scenic Line" (Portland, 

13 see assorted promotional pamphlets, Oregon Historical 
Society and Multnomah County Library; see also, 
Pacific Telephone and Telegraph, Survey r 

1^ The source is unidentified, but readings of successive 
maps confirms the change. 

15 see Laurelhurst promotional flyers, Oregon Historical 
Society and Multnomah County Library. 


The statement is incorrect; it was probably elec- 
trified shortly after its construction in 1892. 

17 Portland Railway et al., "Guide". 

-^ Rowsome, p. 90. 

19 Pacific Telephone and Telegraph, Survey , 

Pacific Telephone and Telegraph, Survey . 

21 Pacific Telephone and Telegraph, Survey . 

22 Portland Railway et al., "Guide"; Portland Railway, 
"The Scenic Line". 


Hallgren and Due, p. 14. 

24 Pacific Telephone and Telegraph, Survey . 


-' See the advertisement on the hack of Rev. John Roach 

Straton, "Portland: The Queen City of the Northwest" 
(Portland, n.d., c. 1907) for the real estate and 
banking firm of Hartman and Thompson. 

Roy Reese Roblee, Portland Electric Power Company with 
its Predecessor ancT'Subsidiary Companies (Portland, 
I935 ; mimeographed ) , p . 154 . 

2 ? Pacific Telephone and Telegraph, Survey . 

2 ° Pacific Telephone and Telegraph, Survey . 

2 9 Pacific Telephone and Telegraph, Survey ; see also 

promotional flyers for East Koreland, Oregon Historical 

3° See City of Portland, Department of Public Works, map 
series c. 1921 covering pavement, water, gas lines, etc. 

31 Roblee, p. 154. 

32 Roblee, p. 153; Rowsome, pp. 168-169; Mills, Railroads , 
P. 92. 

33 Maddux, p. 109. 

-^ Source for all PRL&P lines: Mills, "Early Electric Inter- 
1 urbans. . ♦!. ..," 82-105 • 


25 Portland Railway et al., "Guide"; Portland Railway, 
"Light and Power Company, "Picturesque Portland and 
Vicinity" (Portland, n.D., c. 1909). 

36 George W. Hilton and John F. Due, The Electric Inter - 
urban Railways in America (Stanford, Calif., i960), 
p. 394. 

37 Hilton and Due, p. 394. 

37 a Hallgren and Due, United Railways . 

38 Source for all OE lines: Randall V. Mills, "Early 
Electric Interurbans in Oregon: II: The Oregon 



Electric and Southern Pacific Systems," OHQ , XLIV, 
No. 4 (December 1943), 387-399. 

From a published schedule. 

Source for all SP lines: Mills, "Early Electric 
Interurbans . . . II . . . , " 400-409 . 

4" 1 Randall V. Mills, "Recent History of Oregon's Electric 
Interurbans: III: Downgrade. " OHO,. XLVI, No. 2 
(June 1945), 124-125. 


Bibliography: Works Cited and Consulted 

Bennett, Edward K. The Greater Portland Plan of Edward 
H. Bennett , ed . Marshall N. Dana. Portland, 1912. 

City Club of Portland, Oregon, City Planning Bureau. 
City Plan of the West Side Flat of Portland . Port- 
land, 1921. 

Fogelson, Robert M. The Fragmented Metropolis: Los 
Angeles, 1850-1930 . Cambridge, Mass., 1967. 

Gaston, Joseph. Portland/ Oregon: Its History and ■""" 
Builders . 3 vols. Chicago and Portland, 1911 . 

Hagood, R. ¥. "Developments in Portland real estate that 
affect the investor.". Reprinted from the Oregon Jour - 
nal, n.d., by F. N. Clark, realtor. Portland, 1911 . 

Hallgren, Harley K., and John F. Due. United Railways 
of Oregon . San Marino, Calif., 1961.""" 

Havley, Amos H. The Changing Shape of Metropolitan 
America; Deconcentratlon Since 1920 . Glencoe, 
111., 1956. 

Hilton, George W., and John F. Due. The Electric Inter - 
urban Railways in America . Stanford, Calif. , I960. 

Holbrook, Stewart. Far Corner . New York, 1952. 

Hunger ford , Edward . The Personality of American Cities . 
New York, 1913. 

Johansen, Dorothy 0., and Charles M. Gates. Empire of 
the Columbia; a history of the Pacific Northwest . 
New York, 1957 • 

Jones, Edward G., ed . The Orepjonian's Handbook of the 
Pacific Northwest . Portland., 1094". 

Krichensky, Libbie. "A study of immigration in Portland,' 
Oregon." Reed College B.A. thesis, 1918. 

Lockley, Fred, History of the Columbia River Valley from 
the Dalles to the Sea . Chicago, 1928. 

Lynch, Kevin. The Image of the City . Cambridge, Mass. , 


KcArthur, Lewis A. Oregon Geographic Names . Portland, 
3rd ed., 1952. 

Maddux , Pe rcy . City on the Willamette . Portland , 1552.^ 

Karlitt, Richard. Nineteenth Street , Portland, 196S. 

Mills, Randall V. "Early Electric Interurbans in Oregon: - 
I: Forming the Portland Railway, Light and Power 
System," OHQ , XLIV, No. 1 (March 1943), 82-105 . 

. "Early Electric Interurbans in Oregon: II: 

The Oregon Electric and Southern Pacific Systems," OHQ , 
XLIV, No. 4- (December 1943), 3S7-409. 

"Recent History of Oregon's Electric Inter- 

urbans: "III: Downgrade," OHQ, , XLVI, No. 2 (June 
1945), 122-129. 

. Railroads Down the Valleys . Palo Alto, 

Calif., 1950. 

Sternwheelers up Columbia: a century of 

steanTooatlng In the Oregon Country . Palo Alto, 1947. 

Ogburn, William Fielding, and Delvin Peterson. "Political 
Thought of Social Classes," Pol. Scl. Q.uar. , XXXI, No. 
2 (June 1916). 

Oregon Immigration Board, untitled. Portland, 1890. 
Pamphlet for prospective immigrants . 

Oregon-Washington Railroad and Navigation Company, Pass- 
enger Dept. "Portland, Oregon: the city of roses." 
Portland, n.d., c. 1912. 

Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company. Survey of Port- 
land . Portland, October 1916. 

Pomeroy, Earl. The Pacific Slope . New York, I965. 

Portland Board of Trade. "Thirteenth Annual Report of 
the Board of Trade." Portland, I887. 

Portland Chamber of Commerce. "Portland, 1905, What to ""' 
see and how to see it." Portland, 1905 . 

Portland City Planning Commission. "Statistics by Census 
Tracts." Portland, 1958. 

. "Population Growth." f: Portland, 1956. 


Portland, City of, City Planning Commission, "Proposed 
Building Zones for the City of Portland, Oregon." 
Portland, 1919. 

Portland, City of, Department of Public Works. Annex- 
ation maps of the city of Portland. 

Map series c. 1921 regarding pavennent, water, 

gas line, and other improvements to date. 

Portland Railway Company, "The Scenic Line," Portland," 

Portland Railway Company, Portland Traction Company, 
East Side Railway Company. "Christian Endeavoreres 1 
Guide of Portland, Oregon..*." Portland, 1897* 

Portland Railway, Light and Power Company. "Health, ^ 
Wealth and Happiness on Ten Acres...." Portland, 1908. 

"Picturesque Portland and Vicinity." Port-' 

land, n.d., c. 1909. 

Pratt , Laurence . I Remember Portland; 1899-1915 * ' 
Portland, 1965. 

Purdy, Ruby Fay. The Rose City of the World , Portland, - 

Roblee, Roy Reese. Portland Electric Pover Company with 
its Predecessor and Subsidiary Companies . Portland, 
mimeographed , 19j55 . 

Rowsome, Frank, Jr. Trolley Car Treasury . New York, 1956. 

St. Johns, City of. "St. Johns on the Willamette...,""'" 
St. Johns, Ore., 1904. 

Scott, Harvey W., ed. History of Portland, Oregon . ^'" 
Syracuse, I89O. 

Straton, Rev. John Roach. "Portland: the Queen City of 
the Northwest." Portland, n.d., c . 1907. 

Strauss, "Ana elm L,,. The American City: a sourcebook of 
urban Imagery . Chicago, 1968. 

. Images of th'e American City . New York, 1961 . 

W. J. Thompson & Co. "Portland, Oregon, 1900." Portland, 



Tunnard, Christopher, and Henry Hope Reed. American 
Skyline: the growth and form of our cities and towns , 
Boston, 1955- 

Union Pacific Railway Passenger Department. "Oregon and 
Washington.... 11 Portland, 1889. 

United States Bureau of the Census. Description of the 
enumeration of the second supervisor. Thirteenth 
census, 1910, for Portland, Oregon. Photostat . 

Victor, Mrs. Frances Auretta (Fuller) Barrett. All over 
Oregon and Washington. .. . San Francisco, 1872. 

Atlantis arisen; or, talks of a tourist 

about Oregon and Washington . Philadelphia, 1891 . 

Wade, Richard C. The Urban Frontier: The Rise of the ■ 
Western Cities 1790-1830 . Cambridge, Mass., i960. 

"The penininsula; a special publication giving a glimpse 
of greater Portland' and St. Johns. 11 Author and pub- 
lisher unknown. Portland, 1909. 

Newspapers and Periodicals 

G-reater Portland: official organ of Greater Portland 
Plans Association . Vol. I, Nos. 1, 2, 3 (Feb. -Apr . 
1913) . Published to promote interest in the Bennett 


Oregon Historical Quarterly , 1900 - . v ' 
Oregonian, 1872r -• - 
Oregon Journal , 1902 - . 
Sellwood-Moreland Bee , 1906-1920. . 

Other Sources 

Interview with Mr. John T. Labbe, historian, Pacific North- 
west Electric Railway Association, November 1968. 


Interview with Mr, V. L. Thompson of Rose City Transit 
Company, October 1968. 

The collections of flyers, pamphlets, and advertising 
brochures for the subdivisions of Rose City Park, 
Alameda, Beaumont, Laurelhurst, East More land, Errol 
Heights, and Vfestover Terrace in the possession of the 
Oregon Historical Society and the Multnomah County 

Other information was acquired through and from Rose 
City Transit Company, from countless maps and city 
directories, from miles of bus riding, from more 
miles of walking and looking. 



headway: the time interval between two cars traveling 
in the same direction on the same line 

peak and off-peak hours, rush hours: peak or rush 
hours are those of the heaviest home-to-work and 
work- to-home travel; off-peak hour3 encompass the 
remainder of the day- 
shuttle: a shuttle car operates over a short distance 
generally to connect with a main line (or to connect 
two main lines) and to provide service to an area not 
sufficiently developed to warrant through service 

steam dummy, steam motor, or motor: a small steam loco- 
motive designed to haul light suburban trains; those 
termed steam dummies have been disguised to avoid 
frightening horses 

stub line: service on a stub line is much like that 
provided by a shuttle car, but there is an implication 
of even lower traffic density 

tripper: a tripper car performs local service on the 
inner and more heavily-traveled sections of a main 
line, permitting limited-stop operations by those 
cars going beyond the terminus of the tripper run 



A Guide to Place Names., Towns, Additions, 
Neighborhoods, Districts 

1 Alameda Park 

2 Alberta 

3 Albina 

4 Al tame ad 

5 Arlington Heights 

6 Beaumont 

7 Brooklyn 

8 Chicago 

9 Couch's Addition 

10 Council Crest 

11 East Moreland 

12 East Portland 

13 Fulton 

14 Goose Hollow 

15 Guild's Lake 

16 Irvington 

17 Kenilworth 

18 Kenton 

19 Kings Heights 

20 Ladd's Addition 


A Quide to Place Names: • Continued 









Mt. TalDor 


Nob Hill 



Portland Heights 



32 Rose City Park 

33 St. Johns 

34 Sellwood 

35 Sunny side 

}6 Waverleigh Heights 

37 Waverly 

38 Westover Terrace 

39 Willamette Heights 

40 Woodstock 

Local Retail Centers 





"' • OCTOBER. 1916. 

\ v 


Q Transfer points 

O Communities 

O Concentrations along car lines 


Amusement Parks and Other Diversions 



Lines from city center to assorted 
amusement parks, cemeteries, and 
other locations of leisure-time 


Portland City Lines, 1920 

•Lines , built before 1907 
.Lines built 1907-192O 


The Interurban Railways 



-» Portland Railway, Light and Power Company 
— Southern Pacific Company 
*— Oregon Electric Railway, United Railways 

■ ■